Enlightened Risk Management in Every Institution of Society
On October 9th, we published a post on our blog titled Why Hospitals Should Pay for Nurses to Learn TM. It was a cogent piece showing there is no downside at all when hospitals pay for their nurses to learn Transcendental Meditation but instead a host of benefits to nurses, patients, co-workers and the hospital’s bottom line. The same well-reasoned argument—supported by personal endorsements, data, and scientific research findings—holds true for every institution in society. By introducing the TM program into the lives of the personnel within any institution, everyone’s health would be improved, the institution’s productivity and net worth would be greater, and the output of each organization to the whole society would increase in value on many levels.
Whether our level of participation is impersonal (we pay taxes to support the functioning of these institutions) or it’s personal (we work in one of these institutions), the fallout from their lack of accountability is our problem.
Cost of the epidemic of stress in schools
Whether the cause be a difficult home life, peer pressure, bullying, inability to keep up in class, or a heavy study load, stress reduces a student’s ability to learn, to engage harmoniously, and even to stay awake in class. Unrelieved stress and fatigue in young persons can endanger their mental and physical health and thwart the most experienced teachers’ attempts to educate. Violence in schools is an ongoing reality—according to the American Psychological Association, 80 percent of teachers surveyed were victimized at school at least once in the current or prior school year. US statistics show that more than six million kids have learning disabilities, 25 percent of teens have anxiety disorders, suicide ranks as the third leading cause of teenage mortality, and drug and alcohol use are rampant. Among educators, low job satisfaction and high stress levels create a consequential lack of job fulfillment and high burnout rates.
The cost? For the U.S. Department of Education, it’s a national crisis. In a July 2015 report addressing only one of many issues—teacher victimization by students—the department cited more than $2 billion lost annually. The costs of recruiting, hiring, and training a replacement teacher are substantial; in one Midwest city, the average cost to replace just one teacher was almost $18,000. Also, rising health insurance costs have been a source of fiscal distress for school districts: A 1012 study based on information from the Bureau of Labor Statistics concluded that the national average of annual employer insurance costs in 2012 was $8,559 for K–12 teachers, compared to only $6,803 for private-sector professionals. And, as long as public education lacks accountability, costs will rise per child whether they are being successfully educated or not. A 2016 NPR report from UCLA’s Civil Rights Project indicated that the estimated national cost is $35.74 billion annually for high school suspensions and their economic repercussions.
At least a million American educators, researchers, scientists, and students already know from personal experience what the introduction of the Transcendental Meditation program can accomplish in schools: learning, academic performance, and graduation rates improve while absenteeism, violence and stress decrease.
Because it is non-religious, easy to learn, effortless to practice and can be done sitting comfortably in any chair, the TM technique fits in to a school environment smoothly. The Transcendental Meditation technique quiets the mind and body naturally and increases coherence between the two hemispheres and the front and the back parts of the brain. According to neuropsychologist Dr. William Stixrud, “As a result, children are simply less impulsive. They get in trouble less; they act without thinking less; they can better inhibit the tendency to get distracted.”
- Health and Quality of Life Outcomes reported that adolescents who learned TM showed decreased absenteeism, school rule infractions and suspensions.
- The journal Education reported that students who learned TM had significantly higher scores in math and language after three months.
- A study conducted by the University of Connecticut found students in three high schools had reduced levels of stress, anxiety, hyperactivity, and emotional problems once they’d learned the TM technique.
- Published research has also shown that, after learning the TM technique, students around the world had better grades, attendance and sleep as well as an overall improvement in academic achievement.
- A study published in the June 2013 issue of the journal Education showed that students practicing the TM technique had a 25% higher graduation rate than non-meditating students.
James Dierke, Executive VP of the American Federation of School Administrators, found out firsthand as a middle school principal how well TM served the school’s needs. He stated that TM “is the most powerful, effective program I’ve come across in my 40 years as a public school educator. It is nourishing these children and providing them an immensely valuable tool for life. It is saving lives.”
Reducing costs, risks, and trauma in police departments
The director of Cop2Cop, a 24-hour-hotline for stressed-out police officers, reports that the worst part of an officer’s job is secondhand trauma such as exposure to homicides, car accidents, children being hurt—all the terrible things police must deal with every day. According to Jon Shane, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the degree of stress police officers face on the job can drive them to drug and alcohol abuse, suicide, and even excessive use of force. Aside from the military, no other jobs are done routinely in an environment of potential and real violence. A study published in the Journal of the Indian Academy of Applied Psychology stated, “… there is considerable evidence suggesting that law enforcement officers are killed more by job-related stress than they are by criminals.”
In Chicago, according to an audit released in early October, the Police Department wasted millions of dollars on overtime pay—sadly, overtime fuels officer burnout. This year, Chicago’s City Council approved a budget of $84 million for police overtime; the department has already spent $115 million in 2017 and is expected to spend a total of $169 million by the end of the year. The irony is that more money is being spent on overtime salary for existing police officers than regular salary would be for additional police officers, and the cost is not just in dollars but in the health and performance of the existing officers continually stressed by the extra work.
There are many exercises and programs available to manage stress. However, the Transcendental Meditation program offers exceptional promise because—rather than managing mental, physical and emotional stresses, it reduces them. TM instruction is given in a uniform way around the country with a support program that can be accessed wherever the police officer might relocate, it can be practiced anywhere in a seated position, and it involves no religion, change in lifestyle or belief.
At the same time as it provides the body with deep healing rest that significantly reduces fatigue, stress and anxiety, the TM technique activates the brain’s pre-frontal areas, which are responsible for planning, foresight and decision-making. With the evidence-based TM program offered in the police force (or in any agency of first responders, including firefighters and military personnel) we’d see life-saving improvements in:
- analytical thinking
- reaction time
- learning ability
- mind-body coordination
- impulse control
We’d see significant mental and physical health benefits, resulting from:
- decreased stress and stress-related illness
- reduction of symptoms of PTSD
- less insomnia
- diminished depression
- a decline in substance abuse
Our government is responsible for the safety of its citizens. The police force, along with other first responders, exist to fulfill this obligation. In-house introduction of the TM program for all personnel in these agencies can help ensure that they are cost-effective as well as effective in executing their duties.
Healing the healthcare industry
Think of the benefits, both financially and in the lives of patients, when the TM program is implemented in medical institutions, where health professionals’ stress, fatigue and emotional distress can cause great danger to patients.
One example, as we reported in the October 9th blog post, is “Nurses make life and death decisions almost daily, rotate shifts, and are under constant time pressure and staffing challenges. These can lead to stress and distress, burnout (30-49% of nurses report a level of stress and exhaustion sufficient to qualify as high burnout), and a potential health crisis among nurses, resulting in an increase in absenteeism and turnover. All these factors create significant financial expense to hospitals.”
As crucial as nurses are to the healthcare system, they are just, as a group, one of the cogs on the wheel of healthcare—there are also physicians, technologists, technicians, aides, medical and nursing students, administrators, therapists, pharmacists, dieticians and more. A job in the medical field demands clarity of mind, kindness, efficiency, communication skills, focus and stamina. When these employees have higher morale and less stress, there are fewer mistakes and a stronger bottom line.
Though it is one of the fastest growing segments of the U.S. economy, the healthcare industry is sometimes known for ineffective recruitment and inability to retain personnel. In a healthcare system, it is wise to offer the TM course during onboarding—integrating new employees into the facility’s functions—as well as in attempting to retain those already employed. New employees will be productive, alert, less stressed and more adaptable. Employees who didn’t learn TM while onboarding but learn after some period of employment will find immediate relief from stress, fatigue, anxiety, compassion fatigue, substance abuse, and absenteeism. The medical facility is rewarded with better patient care and greater job fulfillment with lower burnout and turnover rates, guaranteeing greater financial success.
Science verifies the value of TM for every sector of society
Whether you are a teacher in a classroom, a firefighter battling a blaze, a cop on foot patrol, a health professional—or pretty much anyone doing anything—you want to be effective and be using your full potential. So the following fact is noteworthy: there have been 390 studies and reviews of research on the Transcendental Meditation technique published in independent peer-reviewed journals or other edited scientific publications from 1970 to the present. Among many benefits, studies show that the TM technique:
- provides deep rest
- reduces stress
- increases energy and stamina
- decreases anxiety and depression
- improves sleep
- improves communication and leadership skills
- increases focus, job satisfaction and career success
What more could any principal or chief of any institution desire than a win-win situation where the employees are happy, healthy and productive and the institution itself—which has its foundation in the well-being of its employees—is thriving. What less can tax payers and concerned members of society ask of its institutions than to use a modality that can produce these effects. If you work in one of these institutions and your employer doesn’t provide this kind of service, demand it. If it’s still not forthcoming, learn TM for yourself.
About the Author
Janet Hoffman is the executive director of TM for Women Professionals in the USA.