There are many known as well as unsung heroes of mental health who have helped shine the light on issues affecting people in all kinds of workplaces.
Bill Wilkerson, founder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health in the Workplace, saw the need to explore the challenging issues of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among front-line emergency services personnel. His Mental Health in the Workplace of Heroes forums invited police and military personnel from the U.S. and Canada to share their stories about mental health problems in their own ranks and in their own lives. Many who attended were in full uniform, making a clear and visible connection between their pride in service and their struggles facing issues such as trauma in their daily work. It was an opportunity for many to finally go public with their concerns about mental illness within their workplaces and among their comrades. Wilkerson said, "Individuals told their personal stories and the audience was completely enthralled."
The power of these conversations isn’t a surprise to Stéphane Grenier who is a peer support expert and a retired Lieutenant Colonel with 29 years of service in the Canadian Forces. He said, "Transformative conversations, that people with shared experiences can have, provide hope and healing. In addition to providing trusted peers to talk to, this sense of hopefulness can support recovery."
Sarah Jenner, the National Manager of Mindful Employer Canada has worked with a group of not-for-profits from across the country to develop a session through Mindful Employer’s In-House program that focuses on preventing traumatic mental stress. She shares that, "Being blindsided by a traumatic incident in the workplace can be overwhelming. We feel that doing a better job preventing it altogether is where our efforts should be in all workplaces. By building resilience among teams we not only strengthen the ability of individuals to withstand workplace stressors, we help teams become more effective and supportive of one another."
Most people are a hero to someone. It may just be their own children or friends, but every life is worth preserving and protecting. Let’s all vow to protect all the heroes in our workplaces, no matter what their role may be.
We are honoured to have words of support from Bill Wilkerson, Stéphane Grenier and Sarah Jenner. Watch their videos.
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Trauma can affect anyone in any workplace. See Workplace Trauma for strategies and ideas that leaders and employees can use to help respond effectively. The activities in Team Building can help bolster social support and cross team collaboration.