Mental health - just about everyone is talking about it. You may be familiar with the statistics in Canada:
Depression is the leading cause of disability
500,000 people are off work every week due to a mental health issue
One in four people currently suffers or has suffered from mental illness at some point
More than half of Millennials suffer from mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety
A recent survey showed that a whopping 41% of Canadians are at high risk for mental illness. Millennials, women and people with low income are at the greatest risk. It’s not a problem limited to Canada. In 2015, for the first time ever, the United Nations’ included mental health and substance abuse in it’s Sustainable Development Agenda . Now, you may be wondering “With so many people affected by mental illness, how on earth can our organization flourish?” It can. But, there’s more to consider.
Pain and Chronic Disease Depression and anxiety are often associated with pain and chronic disease. It’s highly likely that your employees are suffering from one or more chronic diseases. Pain, especially chronic pain, can seriously impact an employee’s mental health and their ability to work productively. If you want to create a flourishing organization, you must clearly understand how your organization helps or hinders your employees’ success in relation to their mental health and physical health needs. The UN High Council met in September 2011 in New York City to discuss a serious pandemic. It’s only the second time that the UN High Council has met over a health issue (the first was AIDS – so you can see the seriousness of the situation). The World Health Organization reported that more than 60% of the world’s population is dying prematurely from four main chronic diseases:
type 2 diabetes
respiratory disease, and
The rates of disability and death from these diseases are expected to continue rising. The UN High Council recognized that it is having a devastating impact on industry, health care systems, communities and the economy. They have urged governments around the world to take immediate action.
We Need to Do Things Differently! If you are reading this post, you want to create an organization that supports mental health. But, you are probably very concerned about how to accommodate employees with mental illness. You might be dealing with one or more “difficult” employees. You are likely worried about how to manage mental health claims, and how they will impact your organization. These are all very valid concerns. It’s important that we start to do things differently. That means understanding what employees need to succeed, given their individual challenges, capabilities and limitations, and providing the resources and support they need as well as removing the barriers, whenever possible. We need to design work and workplaces to support the success of all employees. Including those who suffer from mental illness and chronic disease. All employees have potential. Much of it is untapped because we focus on their limitations, rather than on their capabilities, talents, and desires. I believe that all organizations can flourish. No matter where they are starting from now, even if its a toxic workplace, taking steps to create a working environment that is both physically and psychologically healthy and safe will help your workers focus, cope with stress, and produce better work. It will create a vibrant community of highly engaged people working well together toward a common goal. I know, because I’ve seen it happen. It isn’t complicated. But it does take effort to move from where you are now to where you want to be, and to sustain it for the long run. That’s why I started Hale and why I’m writing this blog. I have put a lot of thought into what a flourishing organization is and how to help you create and sustain them. I want to share my knowledge, skills and my own experience to help you. Whether you are a business owner, a human resources professional, a health and safety professional, a disability and claims manager, a manager or a supervisor, you will find valuable information in this blog to help you create and sustain a flourishing organization. You will also find information to help you protect your own mental and physical health. Now, this is my first blog, so I am going to ask you to bear with me as I share with you why I am so passionate about this and what you can expect from my blog and my business to help you.
Why I'm so Passionate About Mental Health
When I was a kid, I wanted to be a surgeon.
I’ve had a lifelong curiosity about the human body. How it works. How it grows. How it moves. How it heals from an injury or disease. I just loved to watch or read anything that had to do with medicine and healing. Remember the game “Operation”? The one with the guy whose nose would light up and a buzzer would sound if you made a mistake taking out a bone or an organ? I used to play that for hours! I have also been fascinated with systems my whole life. I just love seeing how things work together. Especially when they are complex and interconnected. Well, I didn’t become a surgeon. Instead, I found my true passion – occupational health and safety (OHS)! I discovered that I could help thousands of people avoid (or at least minimize) suffering and loss by not getting injured or sick to begin with! And what better place to do it than the workplace! That’s where most people spend most of their time and where most of the injuries and illness occurs. But I also knew that so many people were already suffering, and the more I saw it the more it broke my heart. I quickly learned that I could help employers put systems in place that would help employees to recover and heal. To help them get back to work. To help them have a better-quality life. OHS is a perfect blend of my lifelong fascination and curiosity!
After 20+ years helping organizations improve their health and safety, I know without a doubt that mental health is the essential ingredient that produces better results in all areas of the organization. Now, I don’t pretend that the world is perfect, and that no injuries or illnesses ever occur. BUT, I simply cannot express the joy I feel when I am told that the education, training and mentoring I have given has helped a team meet their targets without a single injury or illness. Or that it has helped a once dysfunctional committee heal and become incredibly successful. Or that an employee who was struggling with physical and mental disability was able to return to meaningful work and feel valuable again! There is another reason I love what I do so much. It is very personal. Mental illness and chronic disease has affected me and my family at times. We all know someone who has been affected. If you don’t now, chances are you will. I hope that my experiences can help.
How Can This Blog Help You? You are looking for practical solutions and strategies for dealing with mental health issues. There is A LOT of information out there! You don’t have time to go through it all. You might even be overwhelmed! Don’t let information overload bog you down and prevent you from moving forward! I spend hours scouring the information so you don’t have to. The insight I offer is based on credible, scientific research, collaboration with other professionals, as well as my own professional and personal experience. I am committed to bringing you clear information and actionable resources that you can use to make immediate improvements. With lasting results! My blog will be updated approximately once every 2 to 3 week, with topics that are of burning interest to my followers. From time to time, I will invite one of my trusted affiliates to post as a guest blogger. Sometimes I will focus on the organization. Sometimes on the individual. Often it will be a combination. My focus will always be on helping you understand how to identify and manage the workplace factors that affect the well-being of employees. I might include some personal stories. After all, we want to get to know each other, right? Every now and then, watch for free downloadable resources or links to educational/training events or programs that I know will help you.
Strategies and Solutions for Improving Mental Health in Your Workplace My topics will include things like:
Improving resiliency and coping skills
Managing energy and preventing burn out
Helping employees who are suffering from chronic disease or mental illness
Managing mental stress claims effectively
Accommodating a worker with mental illness
Managing projects in a psychologically safe and healthy manner for guaranteed success
Conducting a risk assessment for substantial work-related stressors
Developing an integrated disability management program
Helping your committees and your work teams succeed
Measuring the return on investment for psychological health and safety
Conducting workplace investigations for work-related stressors
The employer has responsibility for the health and safety of workers. BUT, employees also bear responsibility for their own well-being. In this complex world, there are no easy answers and no one size fits all solutions. That’s why my blog will include strategies to help employees:
Cope with personal stressors
Build resilience and
Avoid or recover from mental injury, including burnout.
I want to make one thing clear. I am not a doctor or a lawyer. If you need medical or legal advice, I urge you to seek it from a qualified professional. ■ I Would Love to Hear from You I am dedicated to making this blog a trusted source of information and resources for you. I am very interested in hearing your questions and your comments. Please, get involved! Engage in the conversation with me and with other followers. Let me know your suggestions for topics of interest. If you have a specific question you would like answered, contact me directly at email@example.com.
Would You Like Help?
Hale Health and Safety Solutions offers training and consulting to help you prevent and manage chronic mental stress claims.
Relevant Training Workshops (see upcoming public dates):
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Liz Horvath is the Founder of Hale Health and Safety Solutions. Her 20+ years of experience in occupational health and safety combined with experience in disability and claims management help clients significantly reduce incidents and claims costs, while improving business results. Liz has helped many organizations through difficult situations involving psychological health and safety. In her previous roles, she developed and delivered basic and advanced level training on Workers’ Compensation Claims Management to hundreds of participants across Canada. She also helped to create the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. She is a sought-after speaker on integration of occupational and psychological health and safety and leadership for in-house and public events. Her recent talks for the Conference Board of Canada and Global Leading Voices generated significant interest.