Month ~ February 2012
Month Chronicle Herald spread, Treatment Across
the Lifespan, published Sunday Feb. 26th.
the pdf here
a number of years, psychologists advocated for a month devoted to
the promotion of psychology in their communities. That dream became
a reality with the launch in February 2005 of the first annual Psychology
Month in Canada.
The goal of Psychology Month is to generate grassroots activities
that will raise Canadians’ awareness of the role psychology
plays in their lives and in their communities. Psychology Month
encourages all members of the psychology profession to connect with
their communities and show them the value and benefits of their
work. Ultimately, we hope to increase support for research, education
and training, and access to psychological services of all types.
During Psychology Month, all national and provincial psychological
associations, private practitioners, academics, scientists, and
psychologists who work in health, criminal justice, schools, business,
etc. are encouraged to organize local public education and outreach
APNS encourages everyone who has questions about psychology to participate
in Psychology Month by learning more about psychology and what it
offers. For more information contact the APNS Office at 902-422-9183
or browse our website.
year we focus on the workpalce. see two articles below on mental
health in the work setting and dealing with stress in the workplace.
Health at Work
Mensink, PhD, R.Psych, Student Counselling Centre
usually think of our workplaces as just that; places where we work.
We typically go to work, put in our shift, and then go home after
we have completed our work responsibilities. However, work can be
and is much more than that! The workplace can be an excellent resource
for improving our health; not only physical health but also mental
course, engaging in meaningful and productive activity is good for
our mental health. In addition, challenging ourselves, advancing
our skills, and being recognized, rewarded, and reinforced for our
positive contributions to the workplace are psychologically gratifying.
It is particularly important that we see ourselves as participating
in decisions associated with our workplace and that we experience
our work as meaningful.
important to point out that these observations are all true of a
psychologically healthy workplace.
I want to focus on another more subtle aspect of a psychologically
healthy workplace for the rest of this article. That is, how can
a healthy workplace become even more healthy? Specifically, I want
to address how to improve the situation for those employees who
might experience mental or emotional health challenges. Three major
functions that both managers and co-workers can fulfill which would
improve the work setting for those vulnerable to mental health are:
1. Identify those at risk or who might possibly become at risk;
2. Respond in a caring and helpful manner; and 3. Refer, if needed,
for future or more extensive treatment.
first major activity that could help is for managers and co-workers
to identify those either at risk or already experiencing
mental health issues. What signs or symptoms at the workplace would
indicate that an employee might be at risk or is experiencing psychological
and emotional difficulties? I want to focus on three key signs or
symptoms: 1. Changes in functioning; 2. Lack of energy or lethargy;
and 3. Social withdrawal. These three signs are perhaps easier to
identify in a work setting. Work performance is clearly affected
by emotional factors. In fact, our work performance depends on our
emotional health. Depression and anxiety can have a direct impact
on how well we do our work and our satisfaction from doing work
well. Second, regardless of the work, lethargy or tiredness can
be observed at the workplace. That is, our work might require mental
or physical demands and dullness or lethargy can be observed by
others in the work setting. Finally, social withdrawal, especially
if it changes over time, can be a clear indicator that something
is wrong. Comments like, she or he is not herself or himself” often
show that something is amiss. I encourage managers and co-workers
to be fully aware of these signs and symptoms so that something
can be done to help the employee.
second activity that is helpful for employees experiencing mental
health difficulties is to respond in some way
to those in need. This is a very tricky area. Many managers and
co-workers alike have wondered if it is “their place” to say something
to the person in need or even to make it known that they might be
picking up on the signs and symptoms of psychological difficulty.
I strongly suggest that we view our work setting as an appropriate
opportunity to intervene with others in a caring manner. I think
there are major positive outcomes from showing and expressing care
for our co-workers; there is help in the healing and there is healing
in the helping. Not only does the person in need know and realize
there are others who really care for him or her but the care giver
receives the satisfaction and meaning that comes with helping another
person in need. These benefits are, indeed, priceless!
do we then respond to our employees or co-workers in need? It is
difficult to write down a recipe for caring but I think there are
a few guideposts. First, dignity and respect are extremely important.
Second, effective speaking and listening skills are very helpful.
Third, practical information on what can be done is essential.
the third and final major activity that could help employees experiencing
psychological and emotional challenges is for managers and co-workers
to refer employees to professionals who can provide
treatment. Examples of professionals would be physicians, counselors,
psychologists, employee and family assistance agencies, family service
associations, community agencies, and so on. It is extremely important
that the manager or co-worker familiarize herself or himself with
such services and options prior to talking with the person in need.
workplaces can, in fact, provide an important resource for those
in psychological need. Caring employees can identify ,
respond , and refer others in
need and in doing so enhance the psychological health of the workplace.
In fact, there is a great deal of evidence that facilitating earlier
identification and referral of employees who are experiencing mental
health challenges can not only improve the psychological health
of the individual employee, but also improve the overall health
of the workplace. This, in turn, increases the satisfaction and
productivity of employees. In sum, our workplaces function as a
mental health resource, which is, I believe, a hallmark of a healthy
with Work Stress
Rice, R.Psych. Marsh-Knickle & Associates
the current uncertainties in our economy, and the daily challenge
of managing our work / life responsibilities in this ever-more-connected
digital world, the average Canadian's smartphone may have more charge
in its batteries than its owner! Although the last decade has brought
us many nifty gadgets and multi-tasking devices to improve our efficiency
and productivity, many of us are, paradoxically, carrying bigger
stress loads and feeling more overwhelmed by our work demands.
some stress is a normal and healthy part of life, excessive stress
interferes with our productivity and poses challenges to our physical
and emotional health, so it's important to find ways to keep it
in check. Fortunately, there's a lot that you can do to manage and
reduce stress at work. Please read on for a list of suggestions,
put together by a local Psychologist ( with acknowledgement
to the work of Psychologist, Dr. Jeanne Segal) who's talked
with many of you out there and learned from your real-life successes
in dialing-down stress… I should add that these tips are equally
applicable whether you're dealing with water-cooler politics in
a cubicle culture or hauling a full load pin-to-pin along the open
road (or Blackberry-to-Blackberry on the Information Superhighway).
Create a balanced schedule: Analyze your
schedule, responsibilities, and daily tasks. Try to create a balance
between work and family life; social activities and solitary pursuits;
daily responsibilities and downtime. All-work-and-no-play is a sure
recipe for burnout.
Don't over-commit yourself: Avoid scheduling
things back-to-back or trying to fit too much into one day. All
too often, we underestimate how long things will take. If you've
got too much on your plate, distinguish between the " shoulds
" and the " musts ." Drop tasks that
aren't truly necessary to the bottom of the list or eliminate them
entirely. Make To Do lists and cross off items as you accomplish
them. Plan your day and stick to the schedule — you'll feel less
Try to leave earlier in the morning: Even
10-15 minutes can make the difference between frantically rushing
to work and having time to ease into your day. Don't add to your
stress levels by running late. If being tardy is a chronic problem,
set your clocks and watches fast and give yourself extra time.
Plan regular breaks : Make sure
to take short breaks throughout the day to sit back and clear your
mind. Also try to get away for lunch and breaks, perhaps walking
around the block, sitting on a park bench, or carving out a little
meditative time (even if it's with your iPod). Stepping away from
work to briefly relax and recharge will actually help you be more,
not less, productive.
Fight through the clutter: Taking the
time to organize your workspace can help ease the sense of losing
control that comes from too much clutter. Just knowing where everything
is saves time and cuts stress.
Have realistic expectations: While Canadians
are working longer hours, we can still only fit so much work into
one day. Having unrealistic expectations for what you can accomplish
sets you up for a sense of failure – and increased stress.
Resist perfectionism: If you are one of
those folks who obsess over every detail and micromanage to make
sure "everything's perfect," STOP .
No project, situation, or decision is ever, or will ever, be perfect;
and you put undue stress on yourself by trying to reach this unachievable
state. When you set unrealistic goals for yourself or try to do
too much, you're setting yourself up to fall short. Do your best,
and you'll do fine.
Prioritize tasks: Make a list of tasks
you have to do, and tackle them in order of importance. Do the high-priority
items first. If you have something particularly unpleasant to do,
get it over with early. The rest of your day will be more pleasant
as a result. Scheduling “the pain before the pleasure” is also a
good approach to living in general.
Break projects into small steps: If a
large project seems overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan. Focus
on one manageable step at a time, rather than taking on everything
at once. As Lao-tzu wisely remarked 2500 years ago, “The journey
of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I might add the
idiom, “prime the pump”, which speaks to the self-perpetuating nature
of this approach.
Delegate responsibility: You don't have
to do it all yourself. If other people can take care of the task,
why not let them? Let go of the desire to control or oversee every
little step. You'll be letting go of unnecessary stress in the process.
Work Stress Management
Cultivate allies at work: Just knowing
you have one or more co-workers who are willing to assist you in
times of stress will reduce your stress level. Just remember to
reciprocate and help them when they're in need.
Talk it out: Sometimes the best stress-reducer
is simply sharing your stress with someone close to you. The act
of talking it out – and getting support and empathy from someone
else – is often an excellent way of blowing of steam and reducing
stress. Develop a support system of trusted people.
Flip your negative thinking : If
you see the downside of every situation and interaction, you'll
soon find yourself drained of energy and motivation. Try to think
positively about your work (e.g., how others are helped by your
efforts), avoid negative-thinking co-workers, and pat yourself on
the back about small accomplishments, even if no one else does.
Find humor in the situation: When you
– or the people around you – start taking things too seriously,
find a way to break through with laughter. Share a joke or funny
Get enough sleep: Stress and worry can
cause insomnia. But lack of sleep also leaves you vulnerable to
stress. When you're sleep deprived, your ability to handle stress
is compromised. When you're well rested, it's much easier to keep
your emotional balance, a key factor in coping with workplace stress.
Get moving: Aerobic exercise is an effective
stress antidote that lifts mood, increases energy, sharpens focus
and relaxes both body and mind. Every little bit counts. Don't forget
to be mindful of your diet and eating patterns as you exercise,
and watch out for the draw of alcohol, nicotine, and other substances
that give the impression of calming work stress in the short-run
Don't just do something, sit there: In addition to
a healthy physical routine (which could include a flexibility program
or some yoga/pilates), many stress-hardy folks reserve some time
each day for a "centering" or reflective practice. Whether
the goal is to access our body's natural "relaxation response"
or spend a few goal-less minutes simply "being with our breath",
we all possess the innate (though frequently turned off) ability
to pause and turn on some powerful internal resources... The challenge
is remembering to do it!
Put it in perspective: Jobs are disposable.
Your friends, families, and health are not. If your employer expects
too much of you, and it's starting to take its toll on your health,
it may be time to start looking for a new job/new employer.
The Association of Psychologists of Nova Scotia (APNS) is pleased
to announce that February 2009 is Psychology Month across Canada.
Psychology Month is presented to raise awareness of the role psychology
plays in our lives and in our communities. We hope the increase
in awareness about the services that psychologists provide will,
in turn help to increase support for research, education and training,
and improve access to psychological services for all.
As part of our annual activities marking Psychology Month, APNS
holds a number of events for psychologists but also provides information
for the public as well.
• APNS provides Fact Sheets on various psychological issues
and disorders such as : Gambling, Parenting, Couple Distress, Autism,
• APNS provides a Private Practice Directory listing psychologists
who are available for referrals through APNS.
• APNS maintains a Website that provides a searchable database
if you are looking for a psychologist, in addition to information
about the association and the profession of psychology.
• APNS provides a Speakers List of psychologists who are available
to speak to community groups and the media about psychology and
what it means to the average Nova Scotian.
• On February 22nd watch for APNS' Psychology Month advertising
spread in the Sunday provincial Herald . The information content
will focus on dealing with anxiety, depression and stress in these
stressful times. See text of articles below.
• On February 5th APNS and The CN Centre for Occupational
Health will be presenting its Psychologically Healthy Workplace
Awards. These Awards are presented to organizations that have shown
a commitment to the psychological health and well-being of their
• Also during Psychology Month, APNS kicked off its Advocate
for Psychology initiative. Psychologists from across Nova Scotia
were provided with advocacy packages created for their local Member
of the Legislative Assembly (MLA). Each MLA received a package and
psychologists will be following up with their MLA offering to be
their expert contact for Psychology.
APNS encourages everyone to participate in Psychology Month by learning
more about psychology and what it offers. For more information contact
the APNS Office at 902-422-9183 or visit our website www.apns.ca