A case study using Logotherapy for the mental health promotion in the workplace of a Japanese company

Masanori Chiba Mental health promotion in the workplace is one of the most important problems for occupational safety and health policies in Japan.
Measures for mental health promotion include three stages: (a) preventive measures against mental health disorder of those under increased occupational stress, (b) early detection and treatment of mental health disorder, and assistance for return to work, (c) recurrence prevention and improvement of working conditions after return to work.
In this case, an industrial counselor used Logotherapy in job assistance to an employee with mental health disorder.

Support to a worker with mental health disorder consists of four phases responding to status of the worker.
They are (a) crisis intervention, (b) follow-up during treatment, (c) assistance for return to work, and (d) support after return to work.

Ms. A (in her 30s) was changed her job from a production line operator to a programmer as a result of restructure of the factory where she had been working.
After a year training on IT skills for her new job, she began to work as a programmer.
On the way to her new workplace, however, she repeated nausea and diarrhea, and became to be often absent from work.
A medical specialist diagnosed her as depression, anxiety, frustration, and a sign of panic syndrome, advising her to be absent from work for about four weeks.

Crisis intervention: A medical adviser of the company introduced a counselor to her.
In an interview with the counselor, she said “I think the company is responsible for my depression.
When I feel increased anxiety, I become suicidal.
When I feel anger to the company swelling inside, I imagine killing myself on the company’s premise.
” The counselor suggested her, “If you wanted to raise protest to the company, you can do it not only by suicide but also by discussion with the company.
” She then made a request for another job to the company, but her request was dismissed by the personnel section for the reason that they could not find another job for her.
In addition to this, with little improvement in her mental health condition, she took sick leave.

Follow-up during treatment: When reporting the counselor on her treatment at a hospital, she whined saying, “How could this happen to me?
I happened to enter this company by force of circumstances.
” The counselor answered, “Everything happens by force of circumstances.
That’s what makes it irreplaceable and precious.
” She repeated the words: “That’s what makes it irreplaceable and precious,” smiling tearfully. She seemed to discover something.

Assistance for return to work: Getting better in mental health condition, she decided to return to work.
As a voluntary preparatory exercise for commuting to work, she commuted to a library, where she happened to meet a book, The Traveler’s Gift (Japanese title: Today I decide).
She said, “I learned from the book that the secret for successful life is in one’s own decision.
” She looked changed and no more a victim of the company.

Support after return to work: To prevent reoccurrence of depression, she was assigned fewer tasks than others when returning to work.
The counselor feared that the favorable treatment to her for long might cause her anxiety by undermining her significance of existing at the workplace.
The counselor persuaded the personnel section to give more tasks to Ms. A so that she would get healthier by undergoing stress.
The persuasion using tri-dimensional ontology of Logotherapy was so successful that Ms. A was transferred to another job on a trial basis.
In her new workplace, she created a business assistance tool for the data room in her charge by using her programming skill obtained through the IT training.
The tool which makes search of document easier like that in a library was highly evaluated by the company, and she became a regular staff of the workplace.

As shown in this case, Logotherapy is applicable to such issues as how to accept oneself in worse mental health conditions, or new difficult working situations, and how to find meaning and values in working under the current circumstances.