A new sur­vey car­ried out by Men­tal Health Ire­land sug­gests that work­ing very long hours puts peo­ple’s men­tal health at risk. “We need to talk about it,” says Fine Gael’s Sen­a­tor Jerry But­timer.

Hot Press - - Highfield Healthcare -

As the lead­ing hap­pi­ness guru Alexan­der Kierulf once said, “Most peo­ple chase suc­cess at work, think­ing that will make them happy. The truth is that hap­pi­ness at work will make you suc­cess­ful.” Or to para­phrase Dolly Par­ton, you should “never get so busy mak­ing a liv­ing that you for­get to make a life.”

That may sound like solid ad­vice. Un­for­tu­nately, many of us ap­pear not to be heed­ing it. Ac­cord­ing to a new sur­vey car­ried out by Men­tal

ealth Ire­land, one third of Ir­ish em­ploy­ees “feel

“I be­lieve the in­tro­duc­tion of Men­tal Health train­ing in com­pa­nies is now very nec­es­sary”

un­happy or very un­happy about the time they de­vote to work.”

Mean­while, more than 40 per cent be­lieve that they are ne­glect­ing other as­pects of their life be­cause of work.

The M I re­search also sug­gests that, when work­ing long hours, more than a quar­ter of Ir­ish em­ploy­ees feel ‘de­pressed’ ­ÓÇ per cent®, one third feel ‘anx­ious’ ­Î4 per cent®, and more than half feel ‘ir­ri­ta­ble’ ­xn per cent®.

Al­most two thirds of em­ploy­ees say they have ex­pe­ri­enced a neg­a­tive ef­fect on their per­sonal life, in­clud­ing “lack of per­sonal de­vel­op­ment, phys­i­cal and men­tal health prob­lems, and poor re­la­tion­ships and poor home life.” While these fig­ures don’t reyect the last­ing plea­sure and sat­is­fac­tion that peo­ple get out of hard work, and in par­tic­u­lar from achiev­ing things, the stats do give pause for thought. One the­ory is that the more hours you spend at work, the more hours out­side of work you are likely to spend think­ing or wor­ry­ing about it. Based on that as­sump­tion, as a per­son’s weekly work­ing hours in­crease, so too does their scope for un­hap­pi­ness. Like the ti­tle of a Depeche Mode track, the trick is prob­a­bly for peo­ple to strive to get the bal­ance right.


Of course life isn’t nec­es­sar­ily very help­ful in that re­gard, as any­one who has tried to run a busi­ness, or work as a free­lance, will tell you. Some­times the work just has to be done.

In­ter­est­ingly, many more Ir­ish women re­port un­hap­pi­ness than men ­4Ó¯ of women com­pared with ә¯ of men®.

“Women, in par­tic­u­lar, need to keep an eye on their phys­i­cal and men­tal health,” ac­cord­ing to Michelle Obama, “be­cause if we’re scur­ry­ing to and from ap­point­ments and er­rands, we don’t have a lot of time to take care of our­selves. We need to do a bet­ter job of putting our­selves higher on our own ‘to do’ list.”

Sen­a­tor erry But­timer, of Fine ael, is now tak­ing a per­sonal in­ter­est in the is­sue.

Forth­right about his own per­sonal needs for ther­apy when he was a younger man com­ing to terms with his sex­u­al­ity, the Cork Sen­a­tor – who is gay – is con­vinced that a lot more needs to be done to pre­pare work­places for when men­tal health is­sues arise.

“I at­tended coun­selling as part of deal­ing with my sex­u­al­ity,” Sen­a­tor But­timer tells Hot Press. “It’s good to talk – and im­por­tant for peo­ple to reach out and share their is­sues. If you are ex­pe­ri­enc­ing dif­fi­cul­ties you are not alone, so I would re­ally en­cour­age peo­ple to talk,” .


The F leader in the Seanad, But­timer is now call­ing for the in­tro­duc­tion of Men­tal ealth train­ing in com­pa­nies to teach peo­ple tools and strate­gies to pro­mote the men­tal health of their em­ploy­ees. Sen­a­tor But­timer says he’s plan­ning to speak to Min­is­ter for ealth, Si­mon ar­ris and Min­is­ter for Busi­ness, eather umphreys, to de­cide the fea­si­bil­ity of set­ting up such a pro­gramme.

“I be­lieve the in­tro­duc­tion of Men­tal ealth train­ing in com­pa­nies is now very nec­es­sary,” Sen­a­tor But­timer says. “If we are all to reach our full po­ten­tial, then the dif­fi­cul­ties and stigma as­so­ci­ated with men­tal health should be ac­knowl­edged.

“A pro­gramme such as Safe Talk will go some way to help­ing peo­ple en­sure their men­tal well-be­ing is be­ing looked af­ter.”

SafeTALK ­“sui­cide alert­ness for ev­ery­one”® is a half-day train­ing pro­gramme that aims to equip par­tic­i­pants to iden­tify in­di­vid­u­als who might be hav­ing thoughts of sui­cide. In just a few hours, par­tic­i­pants can learn how to pro­vide prac­ti­cal help to those who are po­ten­tially sui­ci­dal.

“We need to teach peo­ple tools and cop­ing strate­gies to pro­mote op­ti­mal men­tal health,” con­cludes Sen­a­tor But­timer.

There is no ar­gu­ing with that. It is now down to when – and how...

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