Poor Emotional Wellbeing Is Obstacle to Wellness Efforts

By SHRM Online staff Aug 22, 2011

Many employees’ poor emotional health will not support healthy lifestyle changes, according to a wellness report by ComPsych Corp., a provider of employee assistance programs (EAPs).

Aggregate data from health assessments across ComPsych’s customer base show that stress, anxiety, depression and poor social support might be hampering employees’ efforts to achieve wellness goals, according to the report, Employees’ Poor Emotional Wellbeing Is Obstacle to Wellness Efforts.

“There is strong correlation between high stress/emotional issues and poor lifestyle choices,” said Richard A. Chaifetz, chairman and CEO of ComPsych. “For example, smoking and overeating may be a means to self-medicate undiagnosed depression.

“To be effective, corporate wellness programs must focus on emotional as well as physical factors of the employee and include a counseling component to address underlying issues,” he advised.

Key Findings

The study revealed that large numbers of employees:

  • Said an emotional or physical health problem has interfered with normal activities with family, friends, neighbors or groups (cited by 40 percent of respondents).
  • Are tense or anxious much of the time (36 percent).
  • Did not receive good support from friends and family in the past six months (43 percent).
  • Have felt down, depressed or hopeless in the past month (21 percent).

In addition, employees’ habits trend toward unhealthy behaviors. For example:

  • 15 percent get no exercise; 31 percent exercise only one or two days per week.
  • 34 percent consume at most one fruit or vegetable each day.
  • 23 percent admit to binge drinking within the past six months.
  • Only 16 percent get enough sleep.

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