Tue | Dec 6, 2016

Mental health in the workplace

Published:Sunday | November 23, 2014 | 12:00 AM
File Heath Minister, Dr Fenton Ferguson (left), receives a mental health poster from Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization representative to Jamaica, Dr Noreen Jack, during a World Mental Health Day function held at the University of the West Indies, Mona Campus, St Andrew, on October 10

Mental Health in the workplace is to be under the spotlight this Wednesday, when the Jamaica Occupational Health Professionals Association (JOHPA) stages its quarterly seminar at the Medallion Hall starting at 9 a.m.

According to JOHPA, mental health is becoming a growing concern in the workplace, with the World Health Organization listing long-term mental-health difficulties as one of the three leading causes of disability.

"Workers diagnosed with mental-health disease or illness are often stigmatised as being 'crazy' or 'mad' and are often thought of as not being fit to cope in the regular working environment and excluded from living a normal and active life in society.

"They also face a variety of personal obstacles which includes shame, rejection and fear. This stigma is usually greatly misunderstood, resulting in social denunciation of the individual, which will affect not only the individual but the community on a whole," added JOHPA.

The organisation noted that in today's society where violence and crime is escalating, the economic climate becomes more and more worrisome and jobs become more difficult to find or maintain, mental illnesses are projected to rise.

"It is, therefore, critical for our government and policy makers to acknowledge and properly address this concern and offer the proper assistance to those in need of such services," said JOHPA.

"Promotion of good mental-health practices is, therefore, dire; and the workplace is the ideal tool to communicate and raise awareness on mental-health issues and aid in its prevention.

"It is important to note that minimising workplace stressors and promoting good mental health through workplace polices can significantly aid in preventing mental-health problems from developing among our workers.

"Mental health in the workplace affects us all. You may have a friend, co-worker, family member or you yourself who has been diagnosed with a mental illness or disease whose life has been severely negatively impacted because of this finding," said JOHPA.

The seminar is expected to provide in-depth, up-to-date and relevant information and research on the present paradigm in assessing, recognising and identifying risk factors that contribute to mental-health illnesses and diseases.

Among those scheduled to make presentations are professor Wendel Abel, consultant psychiatrist from the University of the West Indies; Dr Maureen Irons-Morgan; and Dr Noreen Jack from the Pan-American Health Organization and the World Health Organization.