Breaking barriers with mental health wellness in the workplace – Trinidad Guardian

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by
Mi­ran­da Singh BA
Too of­ten, we cre­ate a façade and put on a brave face as we take on the world dai­ly. Many suf­fer in si­lence as they can­not af­ford to stop and seek as­sis­tance or ap­ply ba­sic self-care. Men­tal health is­sues are deep-root­ed in to­day’s world.
Men­tal health in­cludes our emo­tion­al, phys­i­cal and so­cial well-be­ing. It is an es­sen­tial com­po­nent of our over­all health. It af­fects how we feel, think and act. Most times, men­tal health is­sues are trig­gered by a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion in our per­son­al and/or pro­fes­sion­al life. My ex­pe­ri­ence as an HR Prac­ti­tion­er, with a port­fo­lio main­ly con­sist­ing of em­ploy­ee re­la­tions func­tions, cou­pled with the close work­ing-re­la­tion­ships with most em­ploy­ees, has al­lowed op­por­tu­ni­ty to recog­nise those who may be in a stress­ful sit­u­a­tion and may re­quire as­sis­tance from a pro­fes­sion­al coun­sel­lor or an ex­pert in this field. While there may be per­sons who will­ing­ly reach out for help, there are oth­ers who are hes­i­tant due to a per­ceived or re­al stig­ma as­so­ci­at­ed with ask­ing for help or ac­cept­ing it.
Ac­cord­ing to the World Health Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO), “De­pres­sion is one of the lead­ing caus­es of dis­abil­i­ty. Sui­cide is the fourth lead­ing cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Peo­ple with se­vere men­tal health con­di­tions die pre­ma­ture­ly – as much as two decades ear­ly – due to pre­ventable phys­i­cal con­di­tions.”
Some of the key signs to iden­ti­fy­ing men­tal health ill­ness in the work­place in­clude low lev­els of en­gage­ment, sub­stance abuse, high ab­sen­teeism, changes in eat­ing be­hav­iours, vi­o­lence and or ag­gres­sion, ir­ra­tional para­noia or anx­i­ety, with­draw­al from so­cial sit­u­a­tions and change in work pat­tern.
As col­leagues, we can as­sist by en­cour­ag­ing them to talk, lis­ten­ing ef­fec­tive­ly, re­as­sur­ing that in­for­ma­tion will be kept con­fi­den­tial, avoid­ing mak­ing as­sump­tions, refer­ing them to HR for ar­rang­ing EAP ser­vices, or seek­ing ex­ter­nal sup­port, or sim­ply be­ing a friend.
Em­ploy­ers can al­so con­tribute pos­i­tive­ly to em­ploy­ees’ men­tal health by cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment that dis­pels or re­duces the neg­a­tive stig­ma about men­tal health is­sues. En­cour­age them to speak open­ly about men­tal health and cre­ate aware­ness ses­sions, look out for one an­oth­er as we con­tin­ue to be our broth­ers and sis­ters’ keep­ers. Show em­pa­thy and com­pas­sion if an em­ploy­ee ap­proach­es a stress­ful is­sue. Em­pha­sise that dis­cus­sions woll be kept pri­vate and con­fi­den­tial un­less in­for­ma­tion is re­ceived about in­ten­tion to self-harm or cause harm to oth­ers. Re­spect when em­ploy­ees are on leave from work and al­low them the time to recharge. In­tro­duce a flex­i­ble work-arrange­ment to fos­ter a healthy cul­ture of work-life bal­ance. Host reg­u­lar men­tal-well­ness ses­sions from ex­ter­nal providers and hope­ful­ly by do­ing this, it will cre­ate a healthy work­space for all and break the bar­ri­ers
I re­call dur­ing the ini­tial stages of the pan­dem­ic; my em­ploy­er was com­mit­ted to hav­ing vir­tu­al men­tal-well­ness ses­sions done for all em­ploy­ees. It was al­most sec­ond na­ture for the com­pa­ny to take this course of ac­tion, as health and safe­ty has al­ways been a num­ber one pri­or­i­ty. The com­pa­ny was ded­i­cat­ed to keep­ing staff en­gaged and did what­ev­er they saw fit at the time, from col­leagues vol­un­teer­ing to host vir­tu­al ses­sions based on their var­i­ous skills from ba­sic gar­den­ing, to make­up ap­pli­ca­tion, can­vas paint­ing and much more. This ap­proach as­sist­ed em­ploy­ees to cope bet­ter in a time of high un­cer­tain­ty. It al­so re­formed and strength­ened work-re­la­tion­ships, eased anx­i­ety, as some re­port­ed, as we nav­i­gat­ed the course to­geth­er. Our or­gan­i­sa­tion has cer­tain­ly had some pos­i­tive out­comes
Per­son­al re­spon­si­bil­i­ty of our men­tal health is para­mount and as re­silient be­ings, we over­come chal­lenges dai­ly. In the midst of all the chaos, we must en­sure that a bal­ance is sought and main­tained. Pri­ori­tise self-care and find ways to al­le­vi­ate work-re­lat­ed stress. Yo­ga, ex­er­cise, a healthy di­et, con­sis­tent sleep pat­terns, so­cial­is­ing with friends and fam­i­ly and learn­ing to re­lax are all healthy ways to man­age any stress­ful sit­u­a­tion.
As I con­tin­ue to prac­tice Hu­man Re­sources with a gen­uine pas­sion, my goal re­mains to help oth­ers in their var­i­ous cir­cum­stances. I am for­tu­nate to be part of a work cul­ture where the bar­ri­ers are low, ow­ing to men­tal health aware­ness ses­sions, and em­ploy­ees are fa­mil­iar with the process to seek as­sis­tance from the rel­e­vant per­sons or de­part­ment. A cul­ture where high em­ploy­ee-en­gage­ment ac­tiv­i­ties are com­mon.
“I think it’s re­al­ly im­por­tant to take the stig­ma away from men­tal health… My brain and my heart are re­al­ly im­por­tant to me. I don’t know why I wouldn’t seek help to have those things be as healthy as my teeth.”—Ker­ry Wash­ing­ton, from Huff­Post
The Hu­man Re­source Man­age­ment As­so­ci­a­tion of T&T (HRMATT) is the lead­ing voice of the Hu­man Re­source Pro­fes­sion lo­cal­ly. HRMATT Says is a col­umn meant to ad­dress is­sues and con­cerns of pro­fes­sion­als and the gen­er­al pub­lic fo­cused on Hu­man Cap­i­tal De­vel­op­ment. To­day’s ar­ti­cle is writ­ten by HRMATT mem­ber and Hu­man Re­source Prac­ti­tion­er, Mi­ran­da Singh. Learn more about HRMATT by vis­it­ing our web­site: www.hrmatt.com. Fol­low us on Face­book, LinkedIn, In­sta­gram and Twit­ter. Con­tact us at: 687-5523 or via email: sec­re­tari­[email protected]
Up­com­ing event: C-Suite “Go­ing Glob­al” – Oc­to­ber 12, 2022
HRMATT Lega­cy Awards – No­vem­ber 27, 2022

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Janeile "Queen Omega" Osborne.
Keya Thomas
Janeile "Queen Omega" Osborne.
Keya Thomas
A Venezuelan contestant performs for the judges during the amateur steelpan showdown. Judges from left, Laura Dowrich from Loop TT, Jewel Ali from IOM, and EU Ambassador, His Excellency Peter Cavendish.
A Venezuelan contestant performs for the judges during the amateur steelpan showdown. Judges from left, Laura Dowrich from Loop TT, Jewel Ali from IOM, and EU Ambassador, His Excellency Peter Cavendish.
Richard Young Co-founder of Fashion Week T&T Creative Director | Judge – Caribbean Next Top Model Creative Director for Caribbean Fashion weeks in Toronto, Montreal, New York, Miami, Antigua, St. Lucia, Guadeloupe, Guyana and Suriname.
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Marvin Smith
Kathak Background
Marvin Smith
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