Oxford Brookes research into mental health in the workplace

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Research into mental health in the workplace

Dr Christian Ehrlich, Senior Lecturer within the Oxford Brookes Business School, is working on a research project into positive goal setting and reducing mental health problems in the workplace.

Today (10 October) marks World Mental Health Day, a day for mental health education, awareness and advocacy against social stigma. 

Increasing or maintaining the mental health of employees is crucial in the modern age where workloads can be heavy

Dr Christian Ehrlich, Senior Lecturer

With one in four adults being diagnosed with a mental illness at some stage of their lives, the World Health Organization (WHO) identifies deteriorating mental health as one of the most serious health challenges of the twentieth century to Western society.

Dr Christian Ehrlich has developed a model for assessing the work goals of individuals and the link to happiness and engagement, through his research into mental health in the workplace. 

Assessing and setting goals can reduce the likelihood of employees developing mental health problems as a result of heavy workload. The research highlights how the reasons why we choose to do things is a very important contributor to our happiness. 

Those who pursue their goals because they enjoy doing them, or if they believe that they are helping others, tend to report high levels of happiness. People who pursue goals because they feel that they have no other option than to, or if they do so for egotistical reasons, report a much lower level of happiness.

Dr Ehrlich says: “Doing things for the right reason is an important human challenge. However my research shows that people quite frequently pursue their goals out of reasons that are less happiness enhancing.

“Increasing or maintaining the mental health of employees is crucial in the modern age where workloads can be heavy.

“Theresa May has commissioned a review of how employment practices need to change to keep pace with modern business models including work intensification.” 

An employee who underpins daily activities with positive goal setting is more likely to be happy and more engaged at work. Those who are unhappy at work report higher levels of “burnout”.  

Dr Christian Ehrlich is one of the recipients of the University’s Research Excellence Awards, part of Oxford Brookes’ commitment to supporting research-active academics and in supporting the aims of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Strategy 2016-2020.

The funding is providing Dr Ehrlich with the ability to continue the development of a training programme on the importance of positive reasoning behind goal setting to help people increase their happiness and wellbeing.

REA 2017