Down In The Dumps: Managing Psychosocial Risks Over The Holidays

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Down In The Dumps: Managing Psychosocial Risks Over The Holidays

Although the holiday season can be a time of happiness and celebration, for some it can be rather daunting. A study from the National Alliance of Mental Illness (NAMI) conducted before the pandemic, found that 64% of people with mental health conditions suffer more during this period. This has been described as the ‘holiday blues’: where festive activities exacerbate pre-existing psychological conditions including depression. Employees in the US can particularly feel the wrath of this seasonal gloom, as obligatory leave varies across organizations, with some having to work throughout the period, restricting time with family and friends.

Firms are gaining increased responsibility to manage the mental health of their workforce. It has started to become an important part of total worker health programmes, which acknowledge that there are a range of factors that contribute to keeping an employee safe and healthy. This has been a major driver of EHS investment. According to the latest Verdantix global corporate survey, the value of total worker health is the most significant factor in making a business case for internal EHS investment – 73% of respondents considered it as having the ‘highest significance’ or being ‘very significant’. This has been stressed even further through the introduction of industry standards such as ISO 45003, which provides direction on managing psychosocial risk.

Support and strong communication links between workers and their managers help firms keep a close eye on mental wellbeing. Employee assistance programmes (EAPs) and increased emphasis on work-life balance are also crucial. However, there is a shift towards digitizing EHS practices, and mental health is no different. Software vendors offer occupational health modules, which provide a digital platform for each worker’s health records. In recent years, vendors have started to implement mental health solutions into these modules to bolster their capability. In February 2023, Cority released its telehealth function, which enables occupational health staff to plan and conduct virtual health appointments with employees. This feature is integrated with Cority’s occupational health module, which can house and monitor the medical files of a firm’s entire workforce. Moreover, mobile apps such as Highmark Interactive and Happify Health utilize gamification and training to help identify and support workers who are suffering from mental health issues.

As the festive period draws nearer, it is important that organizations keep a close eye on the mental health status of their workforce to ensure that no one feels the wrath of the holiday blues. To read more about this, visit the Verdantix research portal.

Zain Idris


Zain is an Analyst in the Verdantix EHS practice. His current research agenda focuses on total worker health and software vendor partnerships. Prior to this role, Zain completed an internship at Verdantix recording major mergers and acquisitions within each practice. Zain holds a BSc in Economics from the University of Warwick.