Creating a supportive work environment for mental health
Robyn Murphy, an organizer of the Bell Let’s Talk campaign, and an occupational health and safety officer with Health PEI says she’s often witnessed the way people hesitate to engage in discussions around mental health.
“Look, if I had broken my leg I wouldn’t have any issue with telling my employer that and asking for the time off that was required,” she said. “What we’re trying to do is to move toward a place when people can be that open in acknowledging that they may need some time and help for a mental health issue.”
Murphy knows first-hand the importance of support systems.
“I was diagnosed with a mental health illness 14 years ago. I’ve been through different systems and different provinces and over that time I’ve seen great improvements in our ability to respond to these issues,” she said. “But I still remember as recently as six years ago trying to hide this illness in the workplace, thinking of what else I could say.”
She said Health PEI is supportive of her and of others who come forward, but that people can still be uncomfortable.
“I had a conversation with someone yesterday who said I know I should reach out to a friend with mental health issues but I don’t know what to say. I think people are afraid of offending someone and that can get in the way of helping,” Murphy said.
“I really think people should take the chance and have that conversation. I really think if you are speaking from the heart that you can help that other person. Just to know that you have that support can make a big difference in someone’s life.”
The #BellLetsTalk campaign encourages people to be upfront about their own challenges and ask employers, community and co-workers to end the stigma around mental health. and to remove the barriers to getting help.
“We’re learning that we need to address mental health hazards in the workplace and encourage people to seek the help that’s available. As an employee I know that HealthPEI is trying to find better ways of supporting employees in this way,” Murphy said.