Mental Health Support Resources for Members
This article appeared in the Spring 2021 issue of our quarterly magazine, The Union Stand:
Last March Nova Scotians, along with most other Canadians, went into lock-down to stop the spread of a potentially deadly virus – COVID-19. Fear and worry descended on many of us as we did our best to adhere to public health orders. Everyone was a potential pathway for the virus.
At first, it was unclear how we could protect our loved ones and ourselves. Is the virus transmitted on things? In the air? When it became clearer – that health care workers needed N95 masks and face shields – the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) was not readily available. Fears and worries escalated as many workers provided services with substandard protection. As a union, we lobbied employers for more PPE and asked our members to refuse work if they were asked to work in unsafe conditions. It was a stressful time. Whether you worked in hospitals, in nursing homes, in home care, in schools, in group homes, in correctional facilities, in liquor stores, in social work, or providing other much needed public services – Nova Scotians relied on you and you showed up.
The stress of this past year has been great. If you are feeling like you need support in any way we wanted to share some resources with you. If you work for the Civil Service, Nova Scotia Pension Corporation, or Tourism Nova Scotia – you can access the Office of Workplace Mental Health. They are a valuable resource for helping you navigate the mental health system. You can reach the Office and a navigator by calling 902-424-CARE (2273) or 1-833-389-CARE (2273). You can visit the webpage at https://novascotia.ca/office-of-workplace-mental-health/ . (We have recently partnered with the Nova Scotia Community College who are working to develop a similar resource for their employees as well – Local 267 – Watch for this in the not-so-distant future!)
If you have any symptoms of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or think you would like to find out more about this condition, please visit: https://firstrespondersmentalhealthns.com/. The NSGEU partnered with other organizations with first responders to develop this site. It was created with first-responders in mind but it is open to anyone. First responders include nurses, paramedics, employees of the Fire Department, Correctional Officers, acute health care workers, social workers, and others.
You may also be covered by an Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP) which can be accessed through your benefits provider. This program is confidential. If you work for the Civil Service, it is here: https://beta.novascotia.ca/employee-and-family-assistance-program . If you work for Nova Scotia Health Authority, it can be found here: https://www.cdha.nshealth.ca/employee-health/employee-families-assistance-program-efap. If you need any help finding out who your benefits provider is, you can also call the union and we can help you. Your can reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org or toll free at 1-877-556-7438.
Another good source of information about occupational health & wellness, including mental health if you are a health or community health care worker can be found through Aware+NS here: https://awarens.ca/ or under the Emerging Issues tab here: https://awarens.ca/emerging-issues-2/.
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