The weakness of ‘active resilience’ training.

Active resilience is being touted as the answer to the mental health challenges present in today’s workforce. As a process it relies on the assumption that, once individuals’ are given the knowledge of the detrimental affects of stress on their health, and by gaining that knowledge individuals will learn to protect them from stress, the problem will melt away. However how individuals will react to this new wonder solution is questionable. As in all psychological problems there is no binary answer. Of course the more subject knowledge individuals have the more self-beneficial decisions they make. Self-benefit is a key reason that motivates any adjustment in personal behaviour. I’m sure we can all relate to broken diets and exercise regimes. If the gain is not worth the pain best intentions quietly fade away.

Whenever we are faced with a psychological choice that requires us to adapt our behaviour, we use both our unconscious brain, to retrieve memories of similar situations, and conscious brain, to compare our personal history with the present dilemma, we always ask ourselves ‘how does this directly benefit me?’ If we perceive a big enough gain we endeavour to move towards the change. If we do not perceive the gain as sufficient we always revert to our existing behaviour pattern of passive resilience. As humans, we constantly, unconsciously go through this process every single time we are faced with a challenge to our past reaction to life events.

There are tertiary techniques that will help people develop resilience to the pressures, inherent in every social environment, which contribute to mental discomfort, and organisations that make this knowledge available to their employees should be applauded and encouraged to continue. However, from the employers’ view because of the numerous variables involved in each individuals’ perception to the value of active resilience, the process of is not a cost affective way of dealing with employees’ wellbeing. I also question whether, if litigation was to become an issue the employer would have a robust defence by claiming that resilience training was supplied so the individual must be at fault by having a shortcoming that caused them to be stressed.

If the aim of the board of Directors in the organisations providing wellbeing awareness programs is to increase profit, which is their prime duty to their shareholders, it’s as effective as bailing water out of a sinking boat with a sieve.

Whereas by managing the pressures at source has a wealth of evidence that can deliver both profit and a happier workforce.

Author – Francis McGinty Bsc Hons