Do you fix the fish or the aquarium? – SafetyAtWorkBlog

Which comes first, fixing the fish or the aquarium? – SafetyAtWorkBlog


Employees’ well-being is crucial for the success of any business. The question is, how should employers take care of their workers? One approach is to provide reactive services, such as Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and resilience apps, which focus on fixing the individual. However, if the root causes of distress lie within the work environment, simply fixing the worker won’t solve the issue. To achieve the goal of population mental health, it is more effective to improve the design, management, and social interactions at work. This approach benefits all workers, not just those who seek help or change their behavior. By fixing the “aquarium” (work environment), businesses can improve the mental health of all their employees.

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Full Article: Which comes first, fixing the fish or the aquarium? – SafetyAtWorkBlog

Improving Worker Mental Health: Fixing the Fish or the Aquarium?

By Jason van Schie


In every business, taking care of employees is crucial for success. Happy and supported workers are more likely to give their best and contribute to the overall growth of the company. But how should employers approach caring for employees? Should they focus on reactive services like Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and resilience apps, or should they prioritize improving the work environment and social interactions? Let’s delve into these questions and explore two important considerations.

Fixing the Individual, Ignoring the Work

One approach to supporting employees is to provide individual services that address their symptoms of distress. For example, offering an EAP service that connects workers with registered psychologists can be beneficial. If a worker engages in multiple sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and actively applies the techniques learned, they may experience a 20% improvement in their mental health. However, this individual-focused approach neglects the underlying causes of distress, such as excessive work demands, unsupportive management, and lack of control over work. As a result, once the worker returns to the same challenging work environment, the symptoms are likely to resurface, significantly limiting the long-term benefits of the individual-focused services.

Population Health: A Comprehensive Approach

While individual-focused services may provide temporary relief for some workers, they do little to improve the mental health of the entire workforce in the long run. To achieve population mental health, it is essential to consider interventions that benefit 100% of workers. This involves improving the design and management of work, as well as addressing psychosocial hazards that contribute to mental health issues. Factors such as work overload, low role clarity, lack of supervisor support, and poor change management have a significant impact on mental health. By identifying and addressing these issues through a psychosocial risk assessment consultation, employers can implement effective mental health interventions that benefit all workers, not just a select few.

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The Benefits of Fixing the Aquarium

Unlike individual-focused services, fixing the work environment has the potential to improve the mental health of the entire workforce. By prioritizing the improvement of work design and addressing psychosocial hazards, employers can create a supportive and mentally healthy workplace for all employees. This approach ensures that every worker benefits from the intervention, regardless of their willingness to seek help or change their behavior. By achieving an average 5% improvement in the mental health of all workers, employers can see a 5% improvement across the entire workforce.


When it comes to supporting worker mental health, businesses should focus on fixing the “aquarium” rather than just addressing individual symptoms. By improving the work environment, management practices, and social interactions, employers can create a healthier and more productive workforce. Investing in comprehensive mental health interventions that benefit all workers is not only morally right but also leads to better population mental health outcomes in the long term.

About the Author:

Jason van Schie is a psychologist and the founder of Psych Health, Safety, and Wellbeing. He is passionate about creating mentally healthy workplaces. Learn more about his work at

Summary: Which comes first, fixing the fish or the aquarium? – SafetyAtWorkBlog

In this article, Jason van Schie discusses the best approach to caring for employees and improving their mental health. While reactive services like Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) and resilience apps can provide individual benefits, they may not address the underlying work-related issues that cause distress. Van Schie suggests that improving the design, management, and social interactions at work is a more effective approach to achieving population mental health. By focusing on fixing the work environment and addressing psychosocial hazards, businesses can improve the mental health of all workers, resulting in a sustainable and impactful change.

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Frequently Asked Questions:

Frequently Asked Questions: Do you fix the fish or the aquarium?

Q: Do you provide services to fix fish or aquariums?

Yes, we provide a range of services to fix both fish and aquariums. Our team of experts is highly trained in fish and aquarium care and can assist you with any issues you may be experiencing.

Q: What kind of fish-related problems can you help with?

We can help with a variety of fish-related problems such as disease treatment, behavioral issues, poor water quality, and inadequate habitat conditions. Our goal is to ensure the well-being and health of your fish.

Q: Can you fix problems with my aquarium equipment?

Absolutely! Our team is experienced in troubleshooting and fixing various issues with aquarium equipment such as pumps, filters, lighting, and heaters. We can identify any faults or malfunctions and provide the necessary repairs or replacements.

Q: How do you determine if a fish or aquarium needs fixing?

To determine if a fish or aquarium needs fixing, we conduct a thorough assessment of the overall health and condition. This includes evaluating the fish’s behavior, checking water parameters, examining the aquarium equipment, and observing any visible signs of distress or disease.

Q: What safety measures do you take during fish or aquarium repairs?

Safety is our top priority during fish or aquarium repairs. Our technicians are trained to handle fish and aquariums with care to prevent any harm or stress. We also ensure proper hygiene and follow industry standards to maintain a safe environment for both the fish and our team.

Q: How long does it usually take to fix a fish or aquarium problem?

The time required to fix a fish or aquarium problem depends on the nature and complexity of the issue. Minor problems can often be resolved within a short span of time, whereas more severe problems may require longer periods of treatment and observation. Our experts will provide an estimated timeframe based on your specific situation.

Q: Do you offer any preventative maintenance services for fish and aquariums?

Yes, we offer preventative maintenance services to keep your fish and aquarium in optimal condition. Regular aquarium check-ups, water testing, and equipment maintenance can help prevent potential problems and ensure a healthy environment for your fish.

Q: How can I request your fish or aquarium fixing services?

To request our fish or aquarium fixing services, you can contact us through our website or give us a call. Our friendly staff will assist you in scheduling an appointment with our experts.

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