Mental Health Awareness Week Launched

October 9, 2017 | 0 Comments

The Minister of Health Kim Wilson proclaimed this week as Mental Health Awareness Week at Carrick House, home of Bermuda Hospitals Board’s fitness centre earlier today.

This year’s theme is Mental Health in the Workplace. It is estimated that three hundred million people suffer from depression, many of whom also suffer from anxiety symptoms.

A recent study led by the World Health Organisation estimated that the cost of depression and anxiety disorders alone cost the global economy one trillion US dollars each year in lost productivity.

Minister Wilson is flanked by Scott Pearman, COO, BHB and Morrisa Rogers, Clinical Supervisor of Allied Health, MWI.

Mental Health Week Bermuda Oct 9 2017 (1)

Minister Wilson said, “Mental health is an issue I’m personally very passionate about, and I hope the business community will embrace this year’s topic wholeheartedly to bring employees better mental health in the workplace.”

Venetta Symonds, CEO and President, BHB; Dr Anna Neilson-Williams, Deputy Chief of Psychiatry, BHB; Judy Richardson, Chief of Nursing, BHB; Dr Chantelle Simmons, Chief of Psychiatry, BHB; Preston Swan, VP Quality and Risk Management, BHB; Tinee Furbert, Junior Minister of Disability Affairs; Scott Pearman, Chief Operating Officer, BHB; Minister of Health, the Hon. Kim Wilson, JP, MP; Lucille Parker, Acting Chair, Bermuda Hospitals Board; Marlene Taylor, Community Psychiatric Nurse, Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute; Morrisa Rogers, Clinical Supervisor of Allied Health, Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute

Mental Health Week Bermuda Oct 9 2017 (2)

The Minister’s full statement follows below:

Good morning everyone.

I’m truly pleased to be here today to launch Mental Health Awareness Week 2017. I am personally very passionate about mental health, so this is an initiative I’m proud to be able to sponsor. This year the focus is on mental health in the workplace, which is highly relevant in our community.

We think of mental illness as a private issue. In fact, I think many of us would shy away from talking about our emotions and our mental wellbeing at work. Fear of discrimination or being seen as ‘weak’ make mental illness a silent menace.

And yet, globally mental health issues cause more absenteeism than any other illness. Mental health issues also cause presenteesim, which is when you spend more time at work than required because you may feel you don’t have job security.

Three hundred million people suffer from depression, many of whom also suffer from anxiety symptoms. A recent study led by the World Health Organisation estimated that the cost of depression and anxiety disorders alone cost the global economy one trillion US dollars each year in lost productivity.

In the UK 70 million work days are lost each year due to poor mental health, and 6 out of 10 people say poor mental health impacts their concentration at work.

Not only do we feel better with good mental health, but our employers benefit from improved productivity. So why isn’t mental health a bigger conversation in our community and our businesses?

There is a stigma people feel with mental illness. It speaks deeply to us about our fears of not being strong, not being able to cope. But in the end, it is an illness just like any other. It is frequently curable and always manageable. But it has to be acknowledged first so that help and support can be sought.

What can business do to support mental wellness in their environments? It’s not at all complicated and is frequently just good, common sense practice.

First off what helps us stay mentally well?

We are standing here today in the BHB’s Carrick House Staff Gym. Having a wellness programme and encouraging your employees to be physically active is hugely beneficial to reducing stress. Having policies on work-life balance and preventing harassment and bullying helps build supported, trusted and resilient teams.

Recognising staff and demonstrating their value gives people purpose and meaning, and generally drives up productivity.

Involving staff in decision-making conveys a feeling of control and participation that improves mental health in everyone – and encourages support for necessary changes and improvements. Offering career path and development can also keep people positive and motivated.

But not all mental illness is preventable. So having a process to identify and refer staff members who may be struggling or finding it hard to cope, and promoting to staff where help is available, ensures mental health issues are identified and treated early.

Having policies and practices that identify distress, harassment, substance abuse will all help early interventions and treatment – better for individuals, better for companies.

In essence, all the pieces that make up a positive, supporting work environment, also make a mental-health-friendly workplace.

There is more that can be done specifically for mental health. Finding opportunities to make mental health and the support available a workplace conversation stops people from feeling isolated when they are suffering and more likely to seek help.

The Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute offers mental health first aid training – and having one or more first aid responders in mental health in your workplace could assist an employee in moments of crisis.

Such training also gives businesses more confidence to hire people with a history of mental illness – helping them on their road to recovery. Although mental health is covered in the Human Rights Acts of many countries, it is still recognized globally that mental health has the greatest discrimination associated for people looking for and staying in employment. It is a vicious circle as unemployment can exacerbate a mental illness.

So to employers I ask for more thought and positive intent in the workplace environment and culture that you are building.

To employees, I would encourage you to be thoughtful and supportive to your team members and colleagues.
What we each do and say each day can make a difference to someone in our lives, and our contribution to a positive work place can prevent mental illness in some instances, and support the recovery of people suffering in others.

Finally, to support the care of all those in our community and inpatient mental health programmes, I am very happy to inform you that BHB has launched a new scholarship. It has been made possible by the kind donation of the Bermuda Hospitals Charitable Trust. Two $40,000 per year scholarships are being offered to nursing students who complete the two year course at the Bermuda College and go on to specialize in mental health nursing.

An agreement has been entered into with the University of Northampton, so student places as well as funding are now available. This is truly an amazing opportunity and I commend BHB and the Charitable Trust for making this happen.

Our community is desperate for people to move into mental health nursing, so I am very happy to see investment in this critical nurse specialty. More Bermudian nurses in this area will help ensure a stable service in the long term. Not only do we want our workplaces to support good mental health, but need the services for those who do suffer from a mental illness to be appropriately staffed by qualified individuals.

The Ministry of Health also awards the Barbara Ball scholarships to students who are pursing healthcare degrees and I am happy to say that one of the ten new recipients, Shuntelle Paynter, is pursing Mental Health Counselling.

Lastly, I am also very aware of the challenges with our Mental Health Act, and I’m pleased to report that BHB and the Ministry have been reviewing the act and we expect to have a consultation paper ready early next year.

Mental health is an issue I’m personally very passionate about, and I hope the business community will embrace this year’s topic wholeheartedly to bring employees better mental health in the workplace.

Thank you.

Click here banner of health related matters 3

Share via email

Read More About

Category: All

Leave a Reply

="banner728-container bottom clearfix">