Psychological Safety

The news about the 800 people sacked via Zoom has caught my eye recently with the reporting focusing largely on the legality and morality of the action. It is of course absolutely right that this story is receiving attention but I think there are some considerations I haven’t yet seen discussed.

Consider a more physical trauma such as the collapses of a structure endangering hundreds. We would expect the discourse to centre primarily on safety. Questions then such as, “were the correct safety procedures followed etc should feature in the reporting to some extent”.

Do we ask the same of psychological safety?

In the example above, some background population risk information we can draw upon to ask some pertinent questions. The conservative estimate of adult diagnosable mental illness is 1 in 4 per anum. The occupational risk of poor mental health in the seafaring community is higher. Job loss and financial strain are significant risk factors for developing or exacerbating mental health problems. So in a population of 800 you would expect some degree of mental health vulnerability.

So the first question I’m asking is not was this action legal or moral but first and foremost, was it safe. Was the psychological risk of these actions assessed in the same way that physical risk would be?

These differences in how society responds to physical and psychological safety are subtle but they are frequent and in my opinion, speak loudly about the journey we still have to make regarding Stigma.

I’d love to hear your opinions.

Written by Tony Sigrist, Head of Mental Health Delivery at ABC Life Support