A paper presented by our Principal Consultant Mannie Sher, at Public Winter Series Seminar, organised by The International Futures Forum and the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.
In this seminar, Mannie explored the social dimension of mental illness and the role mental illness plays for and on behalf of society. Mannie suggested that all work generates anxiety and that the people involved in the work, from strategists, leaders, managers and front-line staff, create various defenses to manage and cope with that anxiety. In many cases, this management of anxiety is ignored, happens by default and generally ends up as dysfunctional, serving neither the client/customer, nor the staff, who may experience stress, burnout or leave. He also explored how our institutional structures escalate this problem.
In addition, Mannie proposed that in most public service organisations, there is a tension between the primary task which is meant to guide the strategies, policies and practices of the staff, and other organisational priorities. For example, in the health service, the primary task of treatment, cure and care, may be overtaken by a value-for-money, cost-effectiveness primary task, that may reduce the quality of care and force staff into demoralised states of being because they are made to do things that conflict with their sense of professionalism and their desire to help people.
A recording of the talk can also be seen on the Glasgow Centre for Population Health website