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Human resource practitioners support addition of 'Wellness' to Ministry of Health portfolio

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

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KINGSTON, Jamaica — The Human Resource Management Association of Jamaica (HRMAJ) has lauded Minister of Health and Wellness Dr Christopher Tufton for the inclusion of “Wellness” to the health portfolio.

The association noted that this move indicates that the ministry is heading in the right direction as people's approach to wellness can impact their overall health and well-being.

The minister announced the addition earlier this month during his contribution to the 2019/2020 Sectoral Debate, where he noted that “there is the need to address the whole person, through a greater emphasis on wellness”.

He noted that health, as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO) is not only the absence of disease and infirmity, but a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being,

In looking at wellness more specifically, HRMAJ noted that the cost of productivity losses due to mental health problems is higher than that caused by most other health problems and much higher than working days lost to industrial disputes, (Ministry of Health data, 2016).

It added that the WHO estimates that by 2020, depression will become the second major cause of disability in the world.

This statistic, HRMAJ said, presents a compelling business case for organisations to invest in an effective mental wellness programme to help to mitigate risk, promote employees' health and work productivity.

“Our local Ministry of Health statistics indicate that Jamaica paid close to $1.7 billion to provide treatment for just over 179,000 persons with mental health problems between 2013 and 2014. Almost 108,000 Jamaicans (approximately four per cent of the total population) were treated for mental illness in public-health facilities across the island in 2016. It is also estimated that over 40 per cent of the population suffers from personality disorder during their lifetime,” the HRMAJ said.  

The HR Association said it is urging organisations to pay attention to the mental state of their employees, noting that human resource professionals are required to display the business acumen in leading the charge for the promotion of mental health in the workplace.

As the association responsible for HR professionals, HRMAJ said it has been taking steps to ensure awareness in the form of seminars and discussion forums.

It noted that earlier in the year it collaborated with Essential Medical Services to host a conference under the theme – “Optimal Productivity, Winning Minds — Creating a Culture of Mental Well-Being”, addressing the need to create a culture of mental wellbeing in the workplace.

The association said it will continue its advocacy for health and wellness in the workplace, even as they continue to support the various initiatives of the Ministry of Health and Wellness.

HRMAJ noted the below recommendations workplaces can employ for the promotion of mental wellness in the workplace:

·         Assess the organisation's mental health needs and determine the appropriate treatment options that will have the desired impact on the mental health of employees and the business. Each entity has its unique culture and needs.  

·         Reduce the stigma surrounding mental health by promoting a culture of acceptance and safe spaces.  In this regard, employees are encouraged to seek the help they need.  Introducing effective methods of opening the conversation throughout the organisation on mental health issues is, therefore, important.

·         Inform   employees about available resources/services and assist employees to access these options/services, when needed. 

·         Be open to providing job accommodations. Employees coping with mental illness may require work accommodations, job reassignments or work schedule changes. If they are able to perform the essential job functions, be open and accommodating to their needs.

·         Create a healthy workplace by cultivating a supportive and safe environment that help employees to: adjust to changes; maintain work/life balance and acquire skills for healthy living.


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