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Workplace stress: end the trend

Taking charge of your health
Gary Shepherd

While many people are aware of physical health, mental health is often overlooked, and this could lead to serious problems. Gary Shepherd, director of mental health and addiction services for the Sunrise Health Region, recently spoke at a Chamber of Commerce luncheon about the importance of mental health in the workplace.

Shepherd says that nation-wide, billions of dollars are lost annually due to time taken for mental health issues and Yorkton itself is no exception. While Shepherd has only been in the city for seven weeks, he notes that work-related stress is identified as a major reason behind many visits to the mental health drop-in centre.

"The prevalence of workplace stress is something that we have to cope with as a service," he suggests.

Shepherd emphasizes that mental health is a complicated problem, and workplace stress is usually only one component of the larger issues.

He says there are signs that people can look for to identify if their coworkers or employees might be suffering from mental illness. Things like decreased attendance and productivity, as well as the inability to cope with regular tasks, are signs that someone might be suffering from mental illness.

"I think the main message is when you see something, be available to support people."

When it comes to support, Shepherd says that the stigma that surrounds metal illness needs to be eliminated. Since people are unwilling to admit they have a problem, due to the perceptions surrounding mental illness, they are often unable to get the help they need to overcome these issues.

"People are reluctant to come forward, and that is something we need to change."

Shepherd also notes that there are services in the community and online to help people who need it. He notes that Mental Health First Aid training is one of the things which can help people recognize signs and help people who need it.

"There are lots of resources out there, and I encourage people to get familiar with them."