Workplace Wellness For Library Staff March 15, 2022

""As I put together links to share for this issue, mental health quickly became the trend. Mental health is an essential part of workplace wellness. The definition of health I settled on when I first developed the Wellness in the Library Workplace class and used later in the book is from the World Health Organization.

“Health is a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity.” 

This holistic approach to health is so important.

When I started down my journey on workplace wellness in the fall of 2018 after seeing so many presentations about burnout, compassion fatigue, and other issues related to the mental wellness of library staff. I think it is safe to say that not much has changed, and in fact, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has helped make it worse. Library Journal wrote about mental in their January issue that declared library workers the Librarian of the Year. At the beginning of March, the White House announced a National Mental Health Crisis.

This issues items of note:

  1. It’s a New Era for Mental Health at Work “Employees need and expect sustainable and mentally healthy workplaces, which requires taking on the real work of culture change. It’s not enough to simply offer the latest apps or employ euphemisms like “well-being” or “mental fitness.” Employers must connect what they say to what they actually do.”

“What Employers Need to Provide:

  • Leaders must treat mental health as an organizational priority with accountability mechanisms such as regular pulse surveys and clear ownership. It should not just be relegated to HR. 
  • Organizations have to train leaders, managers, and all employees on how to navigate mental health at work, have difficult conversations, and create supportive workplaces.
  • Investing in DEI to support employee mental health and address its intersectionality is also crucial. Black and AAPI employees have been hit especially hard by the trauma of systemic racism and violence.
  • Employers must change their ways of working to be more sustainable — it’s time. A critical component is providing flexibility, which many workers experienced with remote work for the first time during the pandemic.
  • Promoting autonomy, establishing boundaries, and creating norms around communications, responsiveness, and urgency can go a long way toward building a mentally healthy culture. 
  • Finally, a culture of connection is key — from regular check-ins that make time for the question, “How are you?” to healthy working relationships to meaningful interactions among teams.”

2. The latest issue of “Reserve and Renew: the LIS Mental Health zine” is out. The issue includes contributions from 21 library & archives workers, including poems, comics, photos, and illustrations. A $5-10 donation is (sliding scale) is requested for each issue or copy of the zine you order to help cover printing and shipping costs. All money we raise beyond printing & shipping costs will be donated to Mental Health First Aid, a public education program that aims to help communities understand mental illnesses, seek timely intervention, and save lives. via Violet Fox on Twitter

3. Cameron, L., Pierce, S., & Conroy, J. (2021). Occupational stress measures of tenure-track librarians. Journal of Librarianship and Information Science, 53(4), 551–558. (behind a paywall)
Abstract: This study sought to measure occupational stress levels of tenure eligible academic librarians quantitatively and explores the connections between occupational stress and institutional supports. Researchers administered the Job Stress Survey™ to 109 academic librarians in tenure eligible positions. These data were then analyzed and correlated with participants’ responses in an earlier study which measured tenure confidence and access to institutional supports. Findings showed that lack of support contributes to stress more than the pressures of the job and supports that increase librarians’ confidence do not always decrease stress.

4. “For the 8th year in a row, Mental Health America (MHA) released its annual State of Mental Health in America Report, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia based on fifteen mental health prevalence and access measures for youth and adults. The 2022 State of Mental Health in America report confirms the trend that mental health in the U.S. continued to get worse leading into the COVID-19 pandemic. This report also contains two spotlights on policies that can improve access to mental health resources in the U.S. – 988 implementation and increasing mental health education and supports in schools.”