At PHC, we have done a great job of ensuring the physical safety of our staff. We have spent literally millions of dollars on equipment and training to reduce the risk of injury, and our success is reflected in a low injury rate.
We are now turning our focus to address the mental health safety of our staff.
This is a more difficult task as there are so many variables to ensuring good mental health and wellness. There are Canadian National Standards for a Psychologically Safe Workplace, as well as the WorkSafeBC regulations that require a psychologically safe workplace, but the topic of mental health and wellness is much broader than what is covered by these regulations.
Staff are reluctant to speak about mental health struggles, mainly because of the stigma that continues to surround this subject. The only way to remove this stigma and normalize this type of conversation is to speak up.
I’m going to start this conversation by sharing my story.
Sandy with her daughters, and her Harley.
Twelve years ago, I was involved in a freak accident that killed someone I loved, and left me without a scratch. I spent the following two weeks dealing with the bureaucracy of death and then returned to work. My colleagues commented on my strength and ability to cope, but what they didn’t know was that I was going home every night and climbing into bed, hoping to get the energy to get through the next day and that my mask would stay in place. The effort to keep this up was physically and mentally exhausting and could not be sustained.
I was heading for a very dark place when my daughters sat me down and told me that I was scaring them, that they needed me and they didn’t know how to help me. That was my wake-up call to stop my downward slide and I reached out for help.
I accessed our EFAP provider and a counsellor who helped me deal with the tremendous survivor guilt I felt. I also attended a 12-week grief counselling course offered in my community, geared for those who had lost a spouse. Slowly but surely, colour returned to my life.
When you wonder what does someone who has or is struggling to maintain a good mental health balance look like, remember me….. I am that person.
The information contained in this toolkit is provided for general information only.
It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice. Always consult your physician or appropriate health-care provider with respect to your particular circumstances.