Mental health: Let’s talk about it

‘There’s still more work to be done to be able to reduce the stigma’

Mental health: Let’s talk about it

By talking about and bringing it out into the open, the shame that still envelops mental health can be eliminated or at least reduced, says an expert.

“We have certainly noted an improvement in the past five, 10 years; more so in the past two years but there’s still more work to be done to be able to reduce the stigma,” says Katy Kamkar, clinical psychologist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

“The more we are able to talk about it, the more we are able to normalize the conversation about it and to ensure that no one suffers in silence and to seek help, to seek support. And we certainly know that there are effective treatments available.”

Kamkar will be speaking at the upcoming HRD Mental Health Canada one-day virtual summit on May 11 and she provided Canadian HR Reporter with an early look at her talk “Reducing the Stigma: Why it’s important to talk about mental health in the workplace.”

As COVID-19 continues to affect our daily lives, Canadian’s mental health needs have become much more serious during the past year, she says.

“We do know that the mental health needs of Canadians have been on the rise in terms of more reports; we are seeing depressed mood and anxiety,” she says. “We do need to engage in continuous work in terms of providing education and to further work on reducing the stigma.”

For employers that wish the boost employee’s mental health, it’s important to embark upon a “proactive way [and] consider a system approach,” according to Kamkar.

Katy Kamkar

“When we’re talking about workplace mental health, [it’s about] a very supportive workplace environment and being able to reduce any workplace risk factors, working on building workplace protective factors and resiliency and, of course, it’s really being able to support employee health and safety and minimizing psychological risk.”

As well, how the remote employee is treated by the employer goes a long way toward a positive outcome.

“A healthy balance between work demands and a sense of control and resources and training are important. Flexible work conditions, as much as they can be [made] possible, we know is a protective factor and [it’s aboutll] having the sense that one is perceived as being valued, that one’s work is being recognized,” says Kamkar.

With coping skills, employees are better able to recover quickly from traumatic events such as the coronavirus pandemic, says Kamkar.

“By building resiliency skills, we are able to bounce back and adjust to changing situations or circumstances and better adjust to bumps that we might come across for upsetting events that we might experience. We do know that we always need to maximize and optimize our resiliency skills to also help our quality of life, our well-being and our overall health and functioning.”

Meanwhile, there is now a new screening tool helps to calculate the level of resiliency of certain frontline workers, and the pandemic has provided an opportunity to reset the new normal, according to an expert.

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