We deliver communication and business management solutions through strategic advice and planning, issues management, creative communication campaigns, community consultation and executive training programs.


Archive for June 2016

Supporting Mental Wellness

I would describe this edition of Exchange as being an enjoyable challenge. The topic is sensitive, and there are limits to what we can fit into a magazine story. We have done our best to touch on some of the essential information. Tied with this is the importance of providing clear parameters around an employer’s responsibilities and what individuals can realistically do. And quite frankly, this was challenging because for some people, mental health issues are still considered murky – or even scary – waters.

I used a composite story format again in Exchange because we are delving into sensitive topics. Most people do not feel comfortable sharing the intimate details of their battle with mental illness. Not surprisingly, they do not want to shine a spotlight on their personal health matters in a magazine. But sadly, statistics indicate that many people don’t want to let anyone know they are experiencing challenges – including their physicians. It seems that even with proactive campaigns like Bell: Let’s Talk (which coincidentally was running a series of television commercials leading up to the spring edition of Exchange), there is still stigma associated with mental health issues. I was shocked to learn that many people still believe that mental health is something that an individual should be able to control, as though all it takes is mental fortitude to knock out depression, anxiety or trauma responses. Or even worse, there are situations in the workplace where people are either quietly or openly critical of individuals who are struggling with a mental health challenge.

When you consider the statistics of how many people are dealing with mental health issues, including stress responses, depression and anxiety, it seems strange that this topic is still considered awkward. Stigma is clearly hard to shake off. As I wrote the composite story Battling Inner Darkness, which was developed using information about the symptoms of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), I was careful not to exaggerate behaviours or experiences. I felt the story needed to feel very real and relevant for anyone who may be struggling with these types of symptoms. When I captured some of the statistics in Get the Facts on Mental Health, I wanted to shout “It’s an illness, for crying out loud!” and then realized the sad part is that people are crying out silently. The stigma related to mental illness still plagues individuals, groups and organizations, but the good news is that more people are talking openly about the challenges and resources that can help individuals onto a path towards improved mental health. Local governments and other organizations are gaining a better understanding of their role and responsibilities for a safe workplace, and legislation that identifies mental health impacts as a workplace safety consideration. I encourage you to read the composite story and then use Spot the Signs to test out your ability to spot key symptoms of mental health concerns being experienced by Jack and Jill – the characters in our fictional story. See what the experts say about the behaviours exhibited by Jack and Jill, and learn more about the impacts on the workplace and the role of employers in Workplace Impacts and Employer Obligations. Our goal with this edition is to encourage conversations and openness, and to provide the context of how mental health issues can affect individuals and organizations.