The Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) Mental Health Team hosted it annual workshop Under the theme, ‘Mental Health in the Workplace,’ Tuesday (October 10) morning in observance on World Mental Health Day 25th Anniversary.
The event held at the Foster B. Pestaina Auditorium of Pro-Cathedral Christ the King, attracted a cross sector of employers and employees throughout Grand Bahama.
Poor mental health in the work- place can lead to absenteeism, poor job performance, high employee turnovers among other things – a statement shared by the presenters during the informative one-day session.
Featured speaker, Darlene D. Rolle-Cargill, Assistant Professor/Social Services Coordinator of the University of The Bahamas Northern Campus told the audience that there must be work/life balance.
She said that in order to achieve the right balance between life and work, each person must customize that balance to their lives because every person is different.
Dr. Rolle-Cargill noted that it is difficult to keep work and personal life separate.
“Things change and so everything has become a blur now, including the difference between home and work,” she said.
Dr. Rolle-Cargill shared tips to help persons create a good work/life balance.
She suggested that persons find new jobs if they can or persons slow down and take the time to enjoy life.
She also advised individuals to distance themselves from stressful situations and learn better time management.
Dr. Rolle-Cargill said that persons can also set realistic work goals by doing things like, making a list to help prioritize work tasks.
“I decided two days of the week I’m not teaching, period!” she stated.
This, she explained, has helped her be more rested and get more things done.
Another helpful tip is to share the work load, which means to trust others more. She also advised that persons should learn to let things go and explore their options in getting help.
“All of us need some individual help, we need something just for us,” she said.
Dr. Rolle-Cargill added that persons should try to simplify their lives and use technology, but set boundaries.
“Since technology has come, people are on their cell phones 24 hours a day,” she pointed out.
However, she reiterated that there must be a work/life balance.
Sandra Mortimer-Russell, GBHS Acting Hospital Administrator, said that the island’s Mental Health Team is well trained and responsive.
She added that it is important for persons, especially those who serve as first responders, to take care of their mental health. “Many public service workers work in stressful conditions.”
Mortimer-Russell encouraged the public to help one another, instead of ridiculing persons with mental health issues.
Cherlyn Bain, GBHS Principal Nursing Officer in her brief remarks commended the Mental Health Team for promoting and spreading awareness of mental health.
“We do hope that all of your efforts will not go unnoticed,” she said.
In an overview on the current state of general attitudes towards mental health in the workplace, Bain noted that many persons do not discuss their mental illnesses or issues with their colleagues.
She admitted that everyone has some degree of mental health issues in the work place.
“We have to be reminded to come to work on time, we want to be paid for the eight hours but are we actually working those eight hours?” she asked.
Bain advised attendees that they could reduce stress by being organized and not procrastinating and wasting time.
She also stated that persons should try harder to get along with co-workers and learn to meet them where they are at, to encourage social inclusion.
The workshop was dubbed a success and included several presenters – Dr. Leroy Laing, Senior House Officer of the H. Diah Ward of the Rand Memorial Hospital (RMH), who spoke on Workplace Stress; Camille Bain, Diah Ward Registered Nurse, who shared on Stigma and Discrimination and Keira Cox School Psychologist from the Ministry of Education, spoke on Depression in the Workplace.
According to Gabriel Ivbijaro, President of the World Federation of Mental Health (WFMH) 2015-2017, employment is critical in promoting recovery for individuals, communities and nations.
However, estimates show that up to 80 percent of individuals with serious mental illnesses are unemployed, while 70 percent want to work. In the United States alone, it is estimated that major mental health disorders at least $193 billion annually in lost earnings alone.
Michelle Lundy, Clinical Psychologist of the Grand Bahama Health Services (GBHS) was the moderator for the workshop.