Senior Saint Lucia gov’t employees get emotional health training

By Department of the Public Service

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(PRESS RELEASE) — Permanent Secretaries throughout the public service converged at the Public Service Training Institute at Union on Thursday, May 16, 2019 for the first in a series of emotional health workshops.

The workshops are being conducted through the Employee Assistance Programme (EAP) of the Department of the Public Service, targeting permanent secretaries, deputy permanent secretaries and human resource officers.

Acting Permanent Secretary in the Department of the Public Service, Peggy-Ann Soudatt, said the workshops are necessary as they will equip supervisors with the requisite skills to assist employees who are dealing with mental and emotional issues.

“So, for this first workshop, we have brought together permanent secretaries to discuss the issue, the identify how to recognize mental and emotional illness, and how to provide a support system for those affected; because you would appreciate that such issues do have an impact on productivity and other people in the organization,” Soudatt said.

Robert Huggins, an EAP counsellor, facilitated the recently concluded workshop which covered several areas related to mental well-being.

“The main thing coming out of the exercise is how to develop a culture of understanding within the organization that makes people feel comfortable with speaking about their mental and emotional issues.

“You see, mental illness ought not to be treated as something to be stigmatized. In much the same way that we make provisions for someone with a physical disability — we install ramps etc. — mental illness must be viewed as any other aliment. We also spoke of how the physical space is so important to promoting positive well-being/mental well-being,” Huggins added.

The EAP Unit was scheduled to host a similar workshop on May 23 for deputy permanent secretaries and heads of departments. A third workshop has been planned for May 30, this time bringing together human resource officers.

The Employee Assistance Programme was established in 2016 to provide confidential counselling services to government officers and their immediate family members. So far, a number of public sector employees have benefited from the counselling sessions.

The EAP Unit has also been conducting workshops on time management, stress and anger management, team building, conflict management and emotional coping, among others.

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