September Mindfulness and Workplace Wellness Research Round-Up
By The Mindful Leader Team
This month, we look at how mindfulness shapes goal setting and goal pursuit before considering the potential consequences of posting about your mental health on LinkedIn. Then, we’ll review the likely changes to employer-based healthcare in the coming year and explore how workplace stress differs among Gen Zers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Baby Boomers. Finally, we’ll dive into the latest evidence-based guidelines for managing anxiety and depression in cancer patients through mindfulness-based interventions. We have summarized the main ideas and key takeaways below with links to the full articles.
The role of mindfulness and autonomous motivation for goal progress and goal adjustment: an intervention study
A new study published in Motivation and Emotion suggests that mindfulness encourages the setting of new personal goals and may also influence how attainable and important our goals feel. In this randomized, controlled study, half the participants received a daily mindfulness intervention (an online 9-12 minute audio mindfulness exercise) for four weeks, while the other half were placed on a waitlist and received no mindfulness intervention until after the study concluded. At the start of the study, all participants listed out three important personal goals they were currently pursuing. Then, over the course of the next four weeks, participants were asked a series of questions about their goals at five different time intervals. At each check-in point, they were asked if they were still pursuing their goal, had attained their goal, or had abandoned their goal, as well as ranking goal importance, goal progress, and goal motivation. Mindfulness, well-being, and stress levels were also measured at each point.
- Daily mindfulness interventions decreased stress and improved well-being and were also associated with greater goal progress as compared to those who received no mindfulness interventions.
- Among those receiving mindfulness interventions, there was a higher degree of autonomous goal motivation (i.e., choosing to pursue goals because they are in line with your core values and interests).
- Without mindfulness interventions, goals that were less-autonomous and perceived as less attainable gradually become less important over time. However, for those who received daily mindfulness interventions, changes in goal importance were not affected by the level of autonomous motivation or attainability.
Read the full article on the Journal Motivation and Emotion.
Posting Online About Mental Health Could Harm Your Career: Study
As part of the growing movement to destigmatize mental health, more and more people are publicly posting about their struggles with anxiety, depression, and other mental health challenges on social media. However, according to a new study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology, you might want to think twice before making such a post in a professional context, Researchers at North Carolina State University looked at how mental health posts on LinkedIn, a professional social media platform, might affect hiring decisions. In the study, 409 professionals with hiring experience were divided into four separate groups. The first group was shown a LinkedIn page of a job candidate with no mental health posts while the second group saw the same page with a post mentioning struggles with anxiety and depression. The third group saw the first page with no mental health posts as well as an audio interview with the candidate. Finally, the fourth group saw the LinkedIn page with the post about anxiety and depression plus the audio interview. Each participant was then asked a series of questions evaluating the job candidate’s personality and future work performance. Seeing the post about mental health challenges negatively altered how the hiring managers perceived the candidate, regardless of whether they saw the audio interview or not.
- Job candidates were seen as less emotionally stable and less conscientious when their page included a post about dealing with anxiety and depression.
- These perceptions largely persisted even when hiring managers were also presented with an audio interview of the candidate, but the interview did slightly lessen concerns about emotional stability.
- Publicly posting about mental health on social media could have undesirable professional consequences, especially depending on the platform.
Read the full article on U.S. News.
2024 Large Employer Health Care Strategy Survey: Executive Summary
Conducted each year, Business Group on Health’s Large Employer Health Care Strategy Survey asks employers about all sorts of critical health care topics to predict how employer-sponsored healthcare will shift and change in the upcoming year. After collecting and compiling data from 152 large employers who cover over 19 million Americans, their report identifies the top priorities among employers for healthcare plans and strategies in 2024. First and foremost, employers cited a growing increase in mental health needs, up from 44% to 77% from last year. Worry over pharmacy costs followed as a close second concern, with over 90% concerned or very concerned about high-cost drugs in the pipeline and the pharmacy cost trend overall. As a result of plan changes for 2024, health care costs may increase by up to 6%, which is historically higher than average, but employers are taking action to ensure higher-value, cost-effective services; steps they’re taking include evaluating partnerships and vendors but also pushing for greater transparency in PBM pricing and contracting, overall costs, and data reporting.
- Employers are most concerned with improving access to mental health care services and plan to increase access by providing more options for treatment and lowering potential cost barriers.
- Cancer is a top driver of healthcare costs, particularly since covid has resulted in delayed screenings and a higher prevalence of late-stage diagnoses. As a result, employers are focusing on offering advanced screening measures and maintaining 100% coverage for screenings in the coming year.
- There’s a growing commitment to address health inequities with 95% of employers planning to implement at least one strategy to do so. Furthermore, 85% are further committed to implementing at least one strategy that will support LGBTQ+ employees in their health and well-being.
Read the full article on Business Group Health.
Generation Z experiences most stress at work
According to new research from Mercer, one of the world’s leading management consulting firms, Generation Z workers experience the most stress on the job. The findings were recently published in their Health on Demand study, which surveyed over 18,000 employees across the US, China, Mexico, Hong Kong, Italy, Indonesia, India, the Netherlands, and Brazil. 52% of Generation Z workers (those born since 1997) reported experiencing stress at work, compared to only 46% of Millennials (those born between 1981 and 1996) and Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980). For Baby Boomers (born before 1964), the number was even lower at 41%. Although Generation Z workers seem to experience the most stress at work, they are also performing the best, with 73% “thriving” in terms of health, wealth, and career. This is notably higher than Millennials (67%), Gen Xers (58%), and Baby Boomers (58%).
- Struggles with mental health continue to pose a challenge for employees in the workplace. Only a little over half (52%) of respondents worldwide felt comfortable talking to their bosses or colleagues about experiencing mental health challenges.
- Mercer’s top advice for employers is to take action now to support their workforce, but especially to nurture the up and coming Generation Z workers. According to a majority of respondents, additional (indirect) financial support would go a long way to lessen their stress and improve mental health, which in turn, would benefit employers, too.
Read the full article on Consultancy.
SIO and ASCO recommend mindfulness-based interventions for anxiety, depression in cancer patients
Working together, the Society for Integrative Oncology (SIO) and the American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) have created a new guideline for cancer patients to better cope with anxiety and depression using various integrative therapies and techniques. Recently published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology, the guideline was created by an expert panel of treatment providers (including integrative oncologists, medical oncologists, radiation oncologists, surgical oncologists, palliative oncologists, behavioral medicine specialists, nurses, and mind-body medical providers) and patient advocacy representations. The panel reviewed the existing published literature regarding the use of integrative therapies to treat anxiety and depression in cancer patients and especially considered the strength of the available evidence when making its recommendations. Of all the integrative therapies evaluated, mindfulness-based interventions seemed to have the strongest impact in treating anxiety and depression both during and after cancer treatment. Relaxation, music therapy, reflexology, and yoga are also recommended in the guideline, but the evidence of their effectiveness is not as strong.
- Based on the existing published scientific evidence, the SIO-ASCO panel formally recommends mindfulness-based stress reduction, meditation, and mindful movement as the top intervention for treating anxiety and depression in cancer patients.
- Importantly, the guideline also identifies areas and interventions that may be potentially beneficial in cancer treatment but require more research and evidence. In other words, just because the guideline does not endorse a particular intervention does not necessarily mean it is ineffective.
Read the full article on Medical Life Sciences News.