Wednesday, Sep 30

COVID-19 Accelerates Digitized Health System

The world on December 31, 2019 began a war not against humans, ideologies or aliens but against a minute virus that can never be seen with the eye. A war not fought by soldiers, words or machines but by frontline health professionals.

In a war where saliva is deadlier than a bullet, and all participating are armed with facemasks, reinforced with sanitizers and secured with constant handwashing. This type of war, the biological warfare, is unlike the warfare usually experienced where blood, smoke and shattered buildings characterize the battlefields.

Though this warfare has seen some blood spill, the common trait found when comparing World War II to COVID-19 is the aftermath; change from the normal to a new normal.

According to McKinsey, after World War II “there was no postwar miracle; the actions that forged recovery were all human made. Good policies, political commitment, and hard work made it happen. The same will have to be the case in recovering from the coronavirus crisis. Not the same policies, of course—the conditions are too different.”

However, with the coronavirus war, the dictate of recovery would be digital which has already started taking form. At the initial stages of the outbreak, most countries placed restrictions on movement where people stayed indoors all day and businesses stopped operating except those that engaged in delivery of essential products and services.

While the virus was declared a pandemic, activities and interactions were boosted online as it was revealed that the virus spreads through physical proximity. Almost all transactions were moved to electronic platforms for fear of getting too close with another whom you may not know may be infected and also to prevent touching cash as notes and coins were likewise said to be carriers of droplets that could possibly carry the virus.

Shopping for the littlest thing including groceries moved to online platforms which increased delivery services. Education was moved online as it is nearly impossible to prevent students from touching, hugging or speaking to one other.

In the world of health, the fear of having to go to the hospital without the virus and getting infected at the hospital deterred people from visiting in person. The stigma of being looked at from the corner of the eye at the hospital for reporting symptoms like headache, cough and running nose led to the preference of online consultations with doctors.

The thought of getting infected by carriers of the virus caused health professionals to equip themselves with digital knowledge to reduce the number of people who visited the hospital except it was a dire situation.

Since the pandemic era, suggestions are the health system will never revert to its position of the pre-COVID, literally and figuratively, neither will it remain where it is now as the system is rapidly evolving. Prior to COVID-19, telehealth and home care were niche areas that had not yet reached its potential but were gradually taking shape. However, the advent of the novel coronavirus came along with a new dawn for the face of telehealth. Now, telehealth is undoubtedly the initial point-of-care for many non-emergent issues.

The rising need for Telehealth/ Telemedicine

The use of telehealth has been growing in the past few years, though more slowly than expected but they say, out of every crisis arises a new opportunity. Telehealth is said to be the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies. This allows long-distant patient and clinician contact, care, advice, reminders, education, intervention, monitoring, and remote admissions. These platforms also enable families of patients to speak with their loved ones in acute care. 

For Telehealth, this may be an opportunity whose time has finally come. The volumes of telehealth consults have gone up in several multiples since the pandemic struck.  John Kravitz of Geisinger Health has seen a 500% increase in telehealth visits within the first couple of weeks since the outbreak. In anticipation, Geisinger has trained over 1000 providers (and counting) on conducting telehealth visits with patients.

According to reports, Geisinger before Covid-19, had an average of about 40 telehealth visits per day but following the crisis, has an average of 4,000 to 5,000 telehealth visits daily.

Factors inhibiting slower adoption

On a global scale, two factors inhibit the wide adoption of telehealth. They include: reimbursement constraints and patient and provider reluctance.

Telehealth is hardly an explored category due to the significant risks of reimbursement. According to the American College of Physician (ACP) Telehealth Survey 2020, about 24 percent of ACP members are utilizing e-consults on a regular basis. This is because medical communities as well as technologies are beginning to think of telehealth as one of the cost-efficient alternatives over conventional health care.

However, health practitioners are slow to adopt because of the following reimbursement risks: documentation risk; where the details of the consultation are not recorded, misdiagnosis; where an illness is mistaken for another and wrong treatment as well as prescription is given, training and infrastructure development; where this is likely to cost a fortune and lastly, payment and compliance regulation; where there is no constructive equipment to enforce payment by patients.

With patient and provider reluctance; patients’ perception of telehealth had been ‘this provider must not think my problem is not important since they are seeing me via telehealth’ but following the pandemic, the perception is gradually moving to ‘this provider cares about me and therefore is seeing me via telehealth’. Whereas service providers’ perception used to be ‘this person would have gone to the hospital if ill’ but now it’s ‘this person needs immediate response’. 

Difficulties in the use of Telehealth

For telehealth or telemedicine, there are three striking challenges that affects its usage. These include: discontinuity in patient relationships, cybersecurity risks and slow service delivery due to logjam online.

A recent report by McKinsey says, “when patients resume care, they may be more likely to seek it at health systems that have demonstrated safe operations in their ability to treat patients while COVID-19 remains present”. This is based on a recent “Consumer Healthcare Insights survey” which showed that, active communications and evidence of implementation of infection control measures (for example, mask requirements, physical distancing, sanitization) were the most commonly cited reasons which prompted patients to schedule care. It concluded that “the rapid adoption of virtual channels has created a crack in patient relationships and most likely to break it when telemedicine is fully accepted.”

Following the outbreak, most businesses, health inclusive, moved most of their operations online. This heightened the advantage of cybercriminals to swoop the vulnerabilities of online platforms. The World Health Organization, The Dept. of Health and Human Services of the United States and several state and local agencies have become targets. Meanwhile, health systems that have seen a doubling of their remote workforce have had to enable staff with Virtual desktop interfaces (VDI) and connectivity devices to connect to enterprise IT systems seamlessly with minimal data flow between devices in and outside firewalls. 

However, despite strong endpoint security, this large-scale shift to a virtual workforce also exposes new vulnerabilities waiting to be exploited.

In previous conversation, it has been established that people hopped on the wagon as health systems transitioned online. This led to an increase in visitors on health websites or in chat boxes. While most health systems such as Geisinger seem to have successfully scaled up their telehealth operations to meet up the demand, some have seen a rise in wait times that have negated the premise of “on-demand” care through virtual health tools. On the platforms of the health systems that are slow to adapt to the new normal, their service delivery is at a slower pace since their platforms are thronged.

Comprehensive growth plan for health systems

In a recent report sighted by The Vaultz from McKinsey, it indicated that should health systems apply the strategies used by businesses to recover from the 2008/09 financial crisis, it could be a comprehensive growth plan for health systems to adapt to the changing local market conditions post-COVID-19, while still aligning to future growth aspirations.

In the report, three steps were suggested: creating a growth transformation team, defining the approach, and building execution discipline and muscle memory to deliver the growth program effectively. 

Focusing exclusively on executing the transformation means establishing a dedicated, central team that articulates aspirations, defines the direction of the organization, coordinates activities, and measures success. Health systems may wish to consider establishing a team strictly focused on the strategic action plan around growth. This growth transformation team would likely require appropriate strategic, operational, and clinical representation to set organizational aspirations, make decisions on opportunities, and execute quickly. Stakeholders may seek a deeper understanding of the health system’s existing capabilities and sources of vulnerability.

With defining the approach, health systems should assess a comprehensive set of levers and choose the right multi-lever approach. Noting the levers as expanding scope of service, proactively shifting where care is delivered and expanding the continuum of care; investing in digital capabilities to ensure new patients can be seen and existing patients have appropriate continuity of care; and considering strategically aligned acquisitions.

The third recommendation is that health workforce should consider building the execution discipline plan among the core growth response team given the stress that they go through.

According to the report, health systems are assured of continued access to quality care across patient populations and growth if they consider a disciplined approach that is: grounded in a shared aspiration and a data-backed understanding of the starting point; characterized by a diverse set of initiatives that take into account market uncertainties and adapted to the local competitive environment; and implemented with rigorous performance management to ensure that timelines and metrics are met, and that tactics are modified as the ‘next normal’ comes into sharper focus. 

DANGER LOOMS AS COVID-19 SUSPENDS VACCINATION PROGRAMS ACROSS THE GLOBE

DANGER LOOMS AS COVID-19 SUSPENDS VACCINATION PROGRAMS ACROSS THE GLOBE

The conception of most countries which are doing superlatively well were achieved by the fusion of innovations and nimble minds which wisely gestated ideas, and through constant nurturing eventually birth them in the ward of preparation. Invariably, strategies, innovations and a drive greater than the incision created by the pained scalpel of recession, wars, financial meltdown and nuclear disturbing necessitated the transitions from the first stage of sedentary living to the digitized world we live in.

Truth is, if these nations were able to surmount the desperate siren calls of their citizen’s plea for help by rushing their recovery strategies into the emergency unit of implementation and salvaged situation at one time, a repetition of this can be achieved effortlessly, COVID-19 and all. Unarguably, multiple sectors across board have had an appreciably morbid bites of the effects of the pandemic with most decisions being put on the back burner to address the dominant issue served on a deathly platter by COVID-19. The health sector has by far had a rather harrowing experience and recount of event.

As the world desperately gasp for air and craves resuscitation and an injection of life into their economies, the virus is unearthing Africa’s preexisting health problems where previous medical tourists in the persons of some leaders who would have hitherto flown out of the country for their medical checkups, have been grounded like most international flights to face the stark reality of their country’s health predicament, as once donor countries are in a tight bun suturing their own internal wounds.

A survey by the Pan-African Afrobarometer research network revealed that more than half of all Africans go without the necessary medical care at least once in a given year. Also, four in every ten patients encounter long waits or never cared for, whereas one in eight have to bribe their way through to be cared for. It might seem déjà vu moments for most people as they have had close shave with death due to the aforementioned reasons but the ebb and flow of such cases haven’t died down yet and are bound to escalate in this pandemic times where people are being advised to stay home if they’re having a ‘mere’ headache.

Access to healthcare is a fundamental human right for all, but the strain that the pandemic has placed on the healthcare systems everywhere has affected primary healthcare, which according to the WHO “ensures people receive comprehensive care ranging from promotion and prevention to treatment, rehabilitation, and palliative care as close as feasible to people’s everyday environment”. With everyone’s attention on the health crisis, primary healthcare has been subjected to a rather precarious position.

Torn between getting immunized and being cautious.

In 2018, over 13 million children globally did not receive vaccines even before the pandemic disrupted immunizations according to UNICEF. Vaccinations which are heavily campaigned for and publicized particularly in Africa could see a sharp decline and a spiraling effect of an outbreak due to the disruption. Most mothers are in a state of confusion as the date for the children’s next immunization draws near.

Unlike rich countries where parents make appointment to follow a routine vaccine schedule at private pediatric offices or clinics, most African countries and some western countries have to engage in mass inoculations for a large number of children and infants in schools, market places and churches. Dr. Robin Nandy, the chief of immunization for UNICEF echoed the sentiment of some parents by saying that,

“in our quest to vaccinate kids, we shouldn’t contribute to the spread of COVID-19. But we don’t want a country that’s recovering from an outbreak… to then be dealing with a measles or diphtheria outbreak”.

Despite the note of caution, there is also that eerie feeling of a much bigger health catastrophe than the current pandemic. John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health has suggested a disruption like this could result in as many as 6,000 additional children dying every day.

According to WHO immunization and vaccines department head Kate O’Brien,

“what we fully expect in these diseases will come roaring back, and what that means… is that we’re going to see deaths of children in numbers that are unprecedented in recent times.

Suspension of mass immunization

WHO’s regional office for Africa have underscored the importance of maintaining essential health services such as immunizations, as an abrupt interruption of vaccine activities make outbreaks more likely to occur, putting children and vulnerable people at risk. It does corroborate their European Regional counterpart which compiled a report dated 20 March 2020, detailing measures it can implement to mitigate the transmission of the virus and also reduce the impact of the outbreak on healthcare to COVID-19 resources. It stated that, “in planning these measures, due considerations should be given to minimizing the excess risk of morbidity and mortality from vaccine-preventable diseases (VPDs) that would result if services are disrupted.

“Any disruption of immunization service, even for short periods will result in the accumulation of susceptible individuals and a higher likelihood of VPD outbreaks. Such outbreaks may result in VPD-related deaths and an increased burden on health system already strained by the response to the COVID-19 outbreak”.

Currently, there have been a halt in vaccine programmes in at least 68 countries with some entirely stopping vaccination campaigns and this is currently having a staggering effect on the primary healthcare of women and children. Reasons for the halt in vaccine administrations are due to fear of contracting the virus harbored by the mothers, nurses being diverted to tackle the virus and getting vaccine supplies to clinics.

“In Ghana, immunization services have come to a halt in areas where movement restrictions are being enforced, while in other areas session sizes have been reduced, to limit overall group size and because some caregivers are hesitant to show up”, according to a report by the head of Vaccine Impact Research, Niranjan Bhat.

In spite of advocating for the suspension of vaccination programmes due to coronavirus, the WHO is among several entities expressing concern over its long term impact as pockets of cases rise. United Nation’s Children’s Fund (UNICEF) executive director says,

“Measles is on the rise, diphtheria, cholera. So this is going to be a real problem. As a world, we had conquered many of these preventable diseases for children. Now there are grave concerns these gains could be wiped away”.

Over 21 million children stand the risk of getting sick from preventable diseases in countries such as Chad, Ethiopia, Nigeria and South Sudan who have suspended their immunization campaigns and a threatening disaster is imminent as there’s a resurgence in measles outbreak in Africa according to a WHO finding.

Candidly, WHO envisages that 117 million children could stand the risk of missing out on measles vaccines because countries globally are suspending national immunization programs in order to reduce the risk of coronavirus infections, and according to the Measles and Rubella initiatives, so far twenty-four low and middle-income countries including Mexico, Nigeria and Cambodia have paused or postposed such programs.

Experts have advised sustained efforts in routine immunizations, comprehensive data on registries of infants as most West African countries do not have data record of these children except parent-held record.

COVID-19 disrupts vaccine distribution

Now, we understand the gravitas attached to the helm of the pandemic’s garment as it offers no healing at a touch. By no small means, a new ‘pandemic’ hovers on the horizon and might color the clouds black soon if the proper channels for delivering vaccines especially to low and middle income countries are not being hastily attended to. Several reasons come to play to account for the disruption such as, reprioritization and channeling of health workers in dealing with the virus and also restriction impositions embroidered with social distancing.

The largest vaccine procurer, UNICEF, has admittedly come into agreement with the implication of an outbreak as disruption to vaccine distribution continues,

“obviously, when you have an outbreak like this and you have a large number of people seeking healthcare services, it does stretch existing capacity, and human and financial resources which are diverted to the response—and appropriately so”.

Granted, we have an almost insurmountable pandemic which might achieve a citizen status soon, or not, but the bigger picture of belling the vaccination problem is of an equal importance. Searching ways of seamlessly vaccinating children in every nook and cranny via a compilation of a cumulative data on outstanding population to be vaccinated should be of prime importance.

#CannabisDecriminalization - Ghana Decriminalizes Cannabis

Who Passed a Joint?

Ghana now joins the likes of  Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, and South Africa to decriminalize hemp for medical and industrial use.

Parliament Friday evening passed the Narcotics Control Commission Bill, 2019, to treat drug dependence as a public health issue rather than focusing on law enforcement, incarceration, punishment, and repression.

“The fundamental goal of drug policies should be to improve the health, safety, security and socio-economic well-being of people by adopting appropriate measures to combat illicit crop cultivation and use of narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances, as well as its associated substance,” a report on the Bill, presented to the plenary by the Committee on Defence and Interior, said.

 

hep

(Hemp Association of Ghana (HAG) held a sensitizing training workshop on Monday with stakeholder farmers IMG: TheWorkergsGH)

What control measure has been put in Place?

The Commission would be responsible for ensuring public safety by controlling and eliminating trafficking in prohibited narcotic drugs and prevent the illicit use of precursors, co-ordinating the treatment and rehabilitation of drug addicts.

It would also act in consultation with other public agencies and find alternative means of livelihood for farmers who cultivate illicit narcotic plants.

The new law also empowers the Minister for Interior to grant licences for the cultivation of cannabis of not more than 0.3 percent THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that gives the users a high sensation, for industrial and medicinal purposes.

The Committee noted that the Government needed to ensure that legislation met current international standards concerning narcotic offences.

How much Green Money will boost Ghana’s economy?

In Ghana, there is already the Hemp Association of Ghana (HAG) which has signed a deal with a Ghanaian-owned Cannabis business operator based in Portugal.

The deal will gross a staggering $ 56 million in five years from merely cultivating and exporting industrial hemp from a land size approximating 100 acres.

It will rake in around $2.8 million per harvest of HAG’s industrial hemp on the planned 100 acres.

Taxes to the Ghanaian government could gross over $ 10 million from just 100 acres of industrial hemp if the authorities evaluate the industrial potential of the plant taking the world by storm currently.

The independence of the HEMP Industry will be meaningless unless it is linked up with the total liberation of the HEMP Industry in Africa and that is why irrespective of the gains made by Ghana, The Hemp Association of Africa remains our long term aim and objective!

 We seem to get lost in this issue of getting high, and all we can talk about as Ghanaians is smoking.

As President of the Hemp Association of Ghana, we are not promoting smoking, we are promoting the industry, we are promoting cleaning up the environment, we are promoting creating a new revenue stream for government in terms of taxing from cultivation and export and we are talking about promoting medicines that are far better than opioids, medicines that cannot kill you because no one has died from taking cannabis.”

Cannabis Sativa is used for over 50,000 industrial uses, including being used as a cheaper alternative to cotton, paper car dashboards, and building houses and for medicinal purposes.

The Global Cannabis Market is estimated currently at over US$ 100 billion and estimates for the next five years peg the market size at a staggering $ 300 billion.

How to make The Elderly feel loved during a COVID19 Lockdown

How to make The Elderly feel loved during a COVID19 Lockdown

Just when we need each other more, we’re being forced apart

The battle to stop the spread of COVID19 is poised to dramatically increase the risk for loneliness, says 19th U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

Social distancing, while a vital strategy to stem the COVID-19 pandemic, can worsen people’s sense of isolation.

“We find ourselves with a silent but common challenge of loneliness that people are struggling with all over the country and all over the world. And now on top of that, we're being asked to pull back from life-sustaining interactions with other people,”

Each day, as numbers affected by the worldwide pandemic escalate, one thing is clear: no matter where they live, the elderly face the highest risk.

 “The brunt of COVID-19 will be borne by the poor, elderly, and sick, and it is up to us to ensure they are not left behind,”  former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy.

According to a 2012 study from the United Kingdom, seniors die of the usual causes, but isolation is one of the main risk factors that worsen preexisting conditions.

Loneliness more harmful than a Pandemic

Loneliness is as harmful as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. Because of their age and a higher prevalence of comorbid conditions, individuals over the age of 65 are considered to be especially at risk for complications related to COVID-19. But during the current pandemic, these older members of the population are also at a higher risk of succumbing to feelings of loneliness and isolation.

Simple things to make life worthwhile for the elderly?

Put them First

Tip: minutes doesn't seem like a lot of time, but when done consistently that small amount of time can make a big difference in how connected we feel.

Don’t get caught in bad news

It's tough to empathize if you are depressed. Dial down distractions and give undivided attention to people. “The cost to our relationships is significant. It impacts the quality of the interaction, and ultimately the quality of the relationship.

Serve

“We can call a neighbor ...and check on them to make sure they're doing okay. We can drop food off to somebody,” Murthy says. “We can write to people to let them know ... that we know, that they're going through a tough time and that we're thinking of them. These are small but powerful ways in which we can seek to serve others.”

 
Be innovative. 

At Fellowship, “to keep people’s spirits up, to keep them entertained and connected, we converted one of our spaces to a studio where we stream live activities and events and programming to an in-house channel that goes throughout the community.

We’re streaming religious services, entertainment, lectures, any type of content we can. We put out a schedule. We’re always looking to add to it. To ensure people have something to look forward, something to enjoy besides watching tv all the time,” noted Lawrence who runs  a care home.
 
On the brightside, so many individuals and organizations, musicians, artists, have come forward, streaming their performances online. Countless museums offer virtual tours. Churches, synagogues, and temples are streaming their religious services.

Fitness classes have even been thrown into the mix. 


Teach the technology.

The writer’s mother went from having no cell phone a few years ago, to an iPhone, mini iPad, and a second full-size iPad.If they are not familiar, walk them through new devices and tablets and programs and apps and streaming services. There are also online resources. SeniorNet and U3A.Online .

Apps like FaceTime, Facebook Messenger, Zoom, and Skype can help them to feel connected.
 
Pick up the phone. 

The landline (Yes! These do still exist.) Text messages just aren’t the same. Use the phone every day, on a regular basis, to call your older loves ones, even your older neighbors just to check in, even if it’s just to say hi.
 
Most of all, listen. 

“We need to try to understand this from their perspective, and hear their voices to tell us what they need,” stated Asaf Bitton, MD, MPH, assistant professor of medicine at the Division of General Medicine at Brigham and Women's Hospital and assistant professor of health care policy at the Department of Health Care Policy at Harvard Medical School.

“In many ways, this crisis may serve to deepen connections between generations and across communities.”

Tell us: have you been affected by the coronavirus?
If you have been affected or have any information or news tips for our journalists, we would like to hear from you

 


THE CORPORATE WORLD & MENTAL HEALTH

THE CORPORATE WORLD & MENTAL HEALTH

When mental health is mentioned, most people automatically think about madness, hallucinations among other severe mental problems. However, anxiety disorders, anorexia nervosa are examples of mental health problems. Stress, on the other hand, is a reaction to events or experiences in one’s home, work-life or a combination of both. Common mental health problems and stress can co-exist independently. People can experience stress and physical changes such as high blood pressure without having anxiety, depression or other mental health problems. One can also have anxiety and depression without experiencing stress. The key difference between them is the cause and the mode of treatment.

Though work is good for us, work-related stress can exacerbate an existing mental health problem, making it more challenging to control. If work-related stress reaches a point where it has elicited an existing mental health problem, it becomes hard to detach one from the other. From research, there are numerous ways corporate workload and work-related stress affect mental health of corporate workers as well as various preemptive steps that can be taken to nip these in the bud but how?

First, there is a need for people to understand what “mental health” is so they can identify and address them as expected.  Mental health thus, is about how we think, feel and behave and the two most common are anxiety and depression.

On the corporate front, job insecurity or fear of losing one's job is one of the major problems people have to deal with. In Ghana, for instance, severe anxiety has been one of the ramifications of the fold-up of banks and some financial institutions. People with anxiety disorders respond to these situations with fear and dread, as well as with physical signs of anxiety or panic, such as a rapid heartbeat and sweating. This can easily be identified if workers’ responses are not appropriate for a situation, or cannot control their responses, or if their anxiety interferes with normal functioning, they are probably showing indicators of anxiety disorders.

Depression is a typical example of Mood disorders. Depression in the corporate world usually is as a result of stress emanating from feeling very strongly that one doesn't fit the job they do. Sometimes, the guilt some people (especially parents) feel about abandoning and constantly missing some very important moments with their family and friends while they are at work, can cause some form of guilt which aggravates depression. Continually working overtime can affect one's home life; this poor balance can lead to feelings of depression in many people. If one's needs exceeds their salary, it can cause one to feel stressed and worry, which can also lead to depression. Finally, low morale at work as a result of one's hard work constantly being unacknowledged is a big contributor to work related depression.

Eating disorders include extreme emotions, attitudes, and behaviors involving weight and food. Anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating disorder are the most common eating disorders. In the corporate world, trying to maintain the corporate look due to the act of body-shaming sometimes puts a lot of pressure on workers making them preoccupied with food, weight, and body shape, as well as caloric restriction. Others also force themselves to purge by self-induced vomiting, resorting to laxatives or exercising excessively.


Antisocial personality disorder and paranoid personality disorder are examples of Personality disorders, albeit being side effects of some traumatic experiences. Issues like body-shaming and lack of confidence can trigger antisocial disorders. Being anxious, depressed or having low self-esteem may more likely result in paranoid thoughts. Constantly worried that an individual want to sabotage one’s work and continually being on edge makes one more likely to interpret things in a negative way. These can make one develop obstinate personality traits that are perturbing to the person and/or cause problems at work. In addition, the person's pattern of thinking and behavior significantly differ from the expectations of co-workers and are so rigid that they may interfere with the person's normal functioning.


Other effects mental health problems have on workers are

Lack of confidence in one’s self. One may have a hard time concentrating, learning, or making decisions. Most times if one can’t concentrate they may then also think that they can’t do their job well or worry about losing their jobs and this affects work performance.

In Canada for instance, mental health problems cost employers billions of dollars in absenteeism or sick days, “presenteeism” (coming to work, even when the employee can’t work well), and lost productivity; which of course goes a long way to affect the economy as a whole.

Just as there are factors that cause stress and mental health problems to employees, there also are a lot of factors that causes stress to employers as well which may include: achieving the target of the year, salary payment, and fear of failure or collapse of business amongst others.

People who experience mental health problems may be withdrawn from others and their environment and may act in unexpected ways such as taking a lot of time off, or appear less productive than usual. This can put a strain on relationship with supervisors and co-workers.

Hence, how do we curb or reduce the occurrence of such situations at our workplaces, what can be done individually or as a group to make sure co-workers, employees or employers are in a good mental state at work? For it is only with a sound mind that great ideas are produced.

First of all, we need to be each other's keeper. This may sound like a platitude but it is incredibly helpful. Addressing this individually,

  • When one notices that one is always anxious about going to work, because they are mostly unhappy and tearful at the workplace and finds it difficult to interact with others, then some introspection is needed. 
  • One can talk to someone. Find a person that one is most comfortable around in the office and put in the effort to get one to warm up and open up about their mental health. Talking can help one get one’s problems into perspective; “a problem shared is half solved.” 
  • One can seek help. Look into speaking with a therapist or other professionals about the problems. 
  • Talking to one’s superior is another way to go. Not having the best of relationship with one’s superior can also be stressful. If possible, one could talk to them or find a way of settling issues amicably, they may also like to help in their own way to have a peaceful workplace. 
  • When one is depressed or at the precipice of getting depressed, self-care goes south. Make a conscious effort to eat well, sleep well and take good care of yourself.

Whether work causes the health issue or aggravates it, employers can help their employees. Work-related mental health issues must be evaluated to measure the levels of risk to staff. Where a particular risk is recognized, steps must be taken to eradicate it or reduce it as much as sensibly attainable. Some employees may have a pre-existing physical or mental health condition when recruited or may develop one caused by factors outside of work. Irrespective of that, employers can help by: 

  • Organizing and participating in mental health educational programs at work.
  • Promoting communication and open conversations. This can be achieved by raising awareness and unlearning the stigma associated with mental health while providing a mechanism for monitoring actions and outcomes. 
  • Developing positive aspects of work and the strengths of employees. Addressing mental health problems regardless of cause. 
  • Being aware of the workplace environment and how it can be adapted to promote better mental health for all employees.
  • Learning from the motivation of organizational leaders and employers who have taken action. 
  • Involving employees in decision-making, conveying a feeling of control and participation. 
  • Recognizing and rewarding the contribution of employees are but few strategies employers can employ to reduce or eliminate mental health problems.


Globally, an estimated 264 million people suffer from depression. This goes to show that such conditions exist, are serious and have palpable effects on people. “Having a mental disorder isn’t easy, and it’s even harder when people just assume you can get over it.” - HealthyPlace.com

Mental Health for Managers at work.

Mental Health for Managers at work.

Leaders at work may seem to have everything figured out, but it is actually more stressful at the top than one perceives. There are so many articles online that educate employees on how to cope with stress at work, what employers should do to foster a stress-free work environment, how to cope with stressful bosses and so on. But what about the employers? How should they deal with workplace stress? Who do they talk to when they are depressed? Essentially, who watches the watchman?

“Management and leadership are not innate skills; they’re learned,” – Lauren Laitin.

 

It must be noted that it’s not just Chief Executives who feel the heat. A 2015 study suggests that folks in the middle of any hierarchy seem to have higher rates of anxiety and depression than those at the top or the bottom.

Employees who do not have supervisory roles have to deal with expectations from their superiors, but for most bosses, it’s a two-way pull. They are almost always subordinates, whether it’s to someone higher up the organizational ladder or — in the case of CEOs, entrepreneurs, and small-business owners, they also report to customers, stockholders, a business partner, or a board of directors. A boss’ challenges exceed common workplace stressors. They deal with scarcity of jobs, sacrificing personal relationships for professional success and its potential effects. Bosses have to deal with demands from those below and above them. But once they get the skill of management under their belt, the question is “what next?”

An employer needs to make sure that employees or those they superintend over have the resources they need to get their projects done, sometimes within time and budget constraints that can seem uninformed at best.

Paying workers’ salaries on time at the end of the month also induces a lot of stress for employers. Most employees are oblivious to the state of the company’s finances. During times where business is slow, employers have to bear the cost of payment of salaries and make employees happy even in their distress. 

Weathering the storm in the economy of their country of operation, in order to keep businesses running, is another daunting deal for employers. In Ghana, for instance, most companies have folded up due to lack of business opportunities, income and the general economic status of the country. This has contributed to some business owners being depressed and as such resulted to those who lost their life’s work, others who are at the precipice of losing their companies and are also on high alert as well as those who are fortunately still in business but are on the verge of anxiety about future uncertainties. Uncontrolled fear of failure leads to depression and other mental health problems for these employers.

When employees do not meet deadlines or are unable to reach set targets for the month, it causes a lot of worry for their superiors, especially when so much time, money and other resources have been invested and little or no result is yielded. Many a time this emanates from lack of motivation, employees falling behind on the company’s vision and in most cases, employees’ negative attitude towards work such as: lateness, indifference, absenteeism among others which affect work output. The onus lies on the employer to ensure that all facets of the company work well in a coordinative manner and on time, which could be strenuous.

The hassle that comes with being a boss is real. While they work to keep the workplace in tune and make sure everyone is happy, necessary checks must be put in place to ensure there are proper communication channels as well as cultivate healthy relationships with colleagues, clients and business partners. 

Some clients do not deliver as promised and this can be difficult to deal with, yet bosses have to develop the acumen to tactfully manage and handle such clients for future business relations.

 

Staying ahead of the competition

The days of monopoly are over. Every business has at least one or more competitors who are always planning and strategizing to become or remain market leaders. Whereas some employees may have the luxury to rest after work, most managers indulge in rigorous planning on how to stay ahead of their competitors, build and maintain client relationships and in some cases poach clients from their competition.  

Taking care of workers' needs and maintaining a healthy and decorous environment for people with different backgrounds and personalities can be very stressful. As a boss, ensuring that there is peace, harmony, and discipline can be a herculean task. Even when these are not achieved, the boss must ensure some form of teamwork and coordination among workers to help push the vision of the company forward. Lack of unity and teamwork could ruin the future of the company.

Analyzing the various factors that result in high stress levels among employers show that there are some ramifications that come with work-related stress. Although stress is inevitable in everyday life, extreme stress levels have been linked to a host of health hazards, either physically or psychologically.

Distraction or the inability to focus, headache, irritability, and changes in sleep patterns are just a few of the symptoms. It gets more treacherous than that. "When people experience stress, they often stop doing some of the healthy coping strategies that usually help keep their mood on track," Alice Boyes. Stress has an effect of ruining a person’s mood, which leads to abandoning activities and practices that help regulate mood, which consequently create more mood-related problems. Skipping normal coping mechanisms can lead to adopting unhealthy ones, like drinking or substance abuse, or getting into arguments at the drop of a hat just to let off some steam. Those things, in turn, can put a strain on relationships. Stress has been linked to health problems like high blood pressure, and those who turn to stress-eating as a coping mechanism may also be inviting increased risk of heart diseases due to large intake of sugary and fatty foods, for instance.  

According to research conducted by Harvard Medical School, women in stressful roles may also be faced with higher rates of fertility problems that could spiral into a frustrating, potentially devastating infertility cycle. Even without physical symptoms, chronic stress could lead to psychological conditions like depression and, if left long enough, burnout. In some situations, work-life overshadow their personal lives which strains their personal and social life. All too often, most stressed bosses notice they are separating from their norms. “Work-related issues aren’t the only factors that drive personal problems, but certainly people feel like it’s hurting their ability to be there for others,” said McLeod.

What then can be done to help the “watchmen?” It may be time to brainstorm solutions. Everyone experiences stress, and prolonged stress can have very real physical and emotional effects on one’s health. How one chooses to deal with stress often makes the difference between lemons and lemonade.

A support group may be necessary, most bosses do not feel secured opening up about their problems especially to their employees, which is why talking to people of their rank or above them about their problems could help, whether they are in the same company or not.

Health B

Get a trusted confidant to talk to. It is best to have that one friend or partner who understands. Such people are able to tell when one is entering a bad place in their lives and can help pull them out. They can offer a listening ear and a shoulder to lean on when times are hard.

Bosses can sit with their teammates and manager(s) to work through ways to improve a process or situation that could end up benefiting not just them, but the entire team and internal relationships as well.

As part of stress-management tips, one can take more action-friendly steps like keeping their to-do list short, taking one thing at a time, and asking instead of guessing. One can also take a step back, take a deep breath and reflect on what they can do to improve their daily routine.

Employees can also help their employers by exhibiting the highest standard of discipline at work, and meeting targets and deadlines. When the boss is doing an awesome job despite the unique pressures they face, the staff should take a minute to acknowledge their effort. Boss’ Day initiative can be taken by the company from time to time just to say “thank you”.

No matter where and the rank one finds themselves, remember that taking care of your mental health is the smartest decision you could ever make for your life. “Health does not always come from medicine. Most of the time. It comes from peace of mind, peace in the heart, peace in the soul. It comes from laughter and love.” – HealthyPlace.com

Giving Priority to Sleep: The Right Dose to a Healthy life

Giving Priority to Sleep: The Right Dose to a Healthy life

… A clear conscience and a grateful mind are the pillows to sleep on.

After a long stressful day