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Runnymede Healthcare Centre works proactively to address workers’ mental health needs

January 29, 2020


In Canada, one in three people will struggle with their mental health over the course of their lifetime and this can affect a person’s mood, thoughts and behaviour. Fear of speaking out due to stigma is the number one barrier to getting help for someone living with a mental illness. However, Runnymede Healthcare Centre is dedicated to breaking down that stigma and fostering a mentally healthy workplace by engaging in proactive solutions to recognize and respond to mental health issues and illnesses as they arise.

Recently, Runnymede staff took part in a two-day Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training course, offered by the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Similar to how first aid is provided to an injured person before professional medical help can be obtained, Mental Health First Aid is assistance provided to a person who may be displaying some signs of a possible mental health problem, experiencing the worsening of an existing mental health problem, or in the midst of a mental health crisis. MHFA is a first response to a mental health problem and can be provided until the appropriate support can be put in place or the crisis is resolved.

MHFA teaches participants to recognize symptoms of mental health problems, provide help, and guide a person toward appropriate support and resources.

“By offering this training, our hope is to take a preventative approach before mental health issues overwhelm an individual,” said Michael Ampem, Runnymede’s occupational health practitioner. “We are constantly asking ourselves what can we do as an organization to help our team, and MHFA training aligns with our culture of health and wellness.”

While it can be easy for most people to identify who might need first aid for a physical injury or illness, many signs and symptoms associated with mental health problems are often times not so recognizable to the untrained eye. Staff who participated in the training were taught how to recognize a change in behaviour associated with a mental health problem, how to respond and engage confidently with the individual who may be in crisis, and how to guide them to the appropriate support. Participants also learned about different disorders and how to tailor their approach to an individual’s needs.

“It has been helpful to learn how to identify workers who are in crisis or at risk for crisis and assure we have the appropriate accommodations in place while they work with their illness,” Michael said.

In addition to its MHFA training, Runnymede also offers an Employee and Family Assistance Program to support mental health and wellness. This is available to all Runnymede employees and their immediate family members 24 hours a day, seven days a week. In times of personal difficulty, the program provides immediate confidential services such as: relationship counselling, depression and grief counselling.

“We take the health of our staff very seriously at Runnymede, and that includes mental health,” Michael said.