Mental issues a concern for health staff, report shows

Nearly one-third of Northern Health employees on long-term disability are suffering from mental health disorders, according to a human resources report presented to NH's board Wednesday.

There are currently 352 NH employees on long-term disability, with 109 people off work due to mental health issues. The same number of people are on long-term disability for soft-tissue damage, such as torn muscles and ligaments.

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According to the Health Employees Association of B.C. representative, Northern Health is consistent with the provincial average for health authorities for mental health reasons for long-term disability .

The report to the local health authority said awareness of mental health and emphasis on proactive self-care is a priority while Northern Health Workplace Health & Safety keeps developing more resources for staff and physicians geared to remove stigma from mental health. The organization will continue to foster a psychologically healthy and safe workplace, the report adds.

Another item addressed during the board meeting took place when Northern Health staff and partners of the authority were formally thanked for their efforts assisting evacuees during the Cariboo wildfires.

"We are very grateful to our staff, physicians and community partners in Prince George and Quesnel for their support in this unprecedented response," said Colleen Nyce, Northern Health board chair.

"Over the coming weeks, Northern Health will be reviewing the response to identify what went well, and where we might improve our emergency response plans and processes for the future."

Wednesday's board meeting was the first for Nyce as chairperson since her appointment to the role in September.

She has served as interim chair since the retirement of Dr. Charles Jago at the end of June. The board also welcomed new member Frank Everitt, a Prince George city councillor who was also appointed last month.

—Prince George Citizen

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