Another first for PHC
Submitted by Sandy Coughlin, director, Occupational Health & Safety
“Just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean someone isn’t suffering.”
Posted to the wall behind the printer on the fourth floor of the Hornby office – from a Not Myself Today poster, a campaign that helps organizations build mentally healthy workplaces – is such an important reminder. When clinicians and caregivers we see a wound they treat it. If we fall and break our arm we don’t hesitate to seek help. But when it comes to mental illness, stigma and fear continue to stifle our motivation to seek treatment.
As care providers and health care leaders, we share a deep responsibility to ensure the health and wellness of our own mental state if we are to care for those around us. At PHC, 30 to 40 per cent of our Occupational Health & Safety interactions with staff and 34 per cent of our Long Term Disability (LTD) open claims are related to mental health. The reality is health care workers are one-and-a-half times more likely to be off work due to illness or disability than people in all other sectors. People working in health care often report a wide range of health conditions due to work-related stress including depression, anxiety, substance use and even suicide.
Your wellbeing is a shared priority and it’s vital that we work to ensure good psychological health and safety at our sites and care facilities. We acknowledge that more needs to be done to make this happen. We need to shift the culture in health care that equates the care of our self as contrary to the compassionate care of others. We need to end stigma around mental illness that acts as a major barrier to seeking help.
That is why PHC is reinforcing our commitment to provide a psychologically healthy and safe workplace by being one of the first in Canada to sign the Declaration of Commitment to Psychological Health and Safety in Healthcare.
But what does that mean?
It means that as an organization, we’re committed to creating a psychologically healthier workplace where you feel supported and safe to speak openly about mental health issues. We will stand up for change to ensure issues related to workplace mental health are on the agenda from the top down.
By signing the Declaration, championed by the By Health, For Health Collaborative, we publicly commit to protecting the psychological health and safety of our staff and to improving our work environments by agreeing to:
- Take action in alignment with the principles of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace;
- Recognize the value of our staff’s psychological health and safety and its interdependence with patient safety, and that creating a psychologically safe work environment benefits both patients and staff;
- Cultivate a workplace culture that respects our staff’s needs including, but not limited to, their psychological health and safety; and,
- Be leaders and champions for advancing workplace psychological health and safety.
What have we done so far?
- We are the only health organization in BC to adopt a Policy that articulates our commitment to your mental health and mental wellness as a priority.
- We are implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, which considers workplace hazards and their related risks to prevent mental health issues and promote staff mental health.
- Of the 13 Factors of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, we identified the first two factors that we are focusing on based on survey results from our initial staff survey, the Canadian OH&S and Worklife Pulse surveys – Workload Management and Protection of Physical Safety.
- We are working with a variety of management groups to develop workload management strategies which we will take to our staff in the near future.
- We have started the work on Protection of Physical Safety with the staff and physicians on 10C.
- We are working on identifying the next two risk factors that we will focus on, understanding that the work on the first two factors must continue.
- We created the PHC Staff Mental Health & Mental Wellness Toolkit to help foster a workplace that promotes positive mental health and mental wellness and offers staff resources both at work, in the community and self-management tools that they need to be well – free, anonymous and confidential.
As an organization, we will continue to innovate through our systems and processes to be at the forefront of health care delivery. And while our technological investment will advance us into the future of health care delivery, we are equally as invested in being at the forefront of revolutionizing how we prevent, treat and accommodate mental health issues at PHC. We ask our staff to practise self-care and seek to embody their role as exemplars of health promotion.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, help is within reach. Talk with your health care provider or contact the Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP). If you are struggling at work, contact the Occupational Health Advisor for your area or talk to your leader.
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