Mental Health in the Worksplace
Mega Health at Work, is a Waterloo, Ontario-based training consulting company. We offer a series of workshops that address mental health and wellness with a proactive approach. My background includes 15 years in various human resource roles, where I became an expert in implementing Return to Work plans for injured workers. I came to the realization that workplaces could benefit from training in prevention rather that treatment. That’s when Mega Health at Work was born and our tagline “Keeping Your Productivity Healthy” was created.
Robin Bender cares about people, about the way they think, the way they feel, and the way they work. It is this concern for people that has guided her education and her career.
In order to better understand people, Robin attended Wilfrid Laurier University where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She combined that with a post-graduate diploma in Human Resources from Conestoga College. This equipped her to begin working in the HR field with various organizations, assisting people with health and wellness issues and disability claims, helping them to return to productive work.
Spending 15 years in HR-related positions, Robin realized that many organizations were trying—and failing—to balance the conflicting perspectives and priorities of employers, unions, and employees. She found organizations struggling with high rates of absenteeism, presenteeism (in which employees are present but unproductive), and various forms of mental illness. Too often, management didn’t understand what was happening or how to deal with it, and attributed these problems to work-related stress. But Robin understood that “stress” isn’t a diagnosis; there were deeper issues, often involving depression and anxiety.
Robin recognized the growing need for mental health first aid, particularly among first responders—firefighters, police, and paramedics—who are exposed to traumatic events almost every day. She saw that too many people in these fields were expected to help others through the worst days of their lives, yet the helpers were themselves often without help. They were given rigorous training in dealing with life-threatening emergencies, but were not trained how to cope with the consequences to their own emotional and psychological health, often with tragic consequences.
“Supporting someone with mental illness requires a lot of courage, requires a lot of confidence, and requires a lot of knowledge.”
In response, Robin founded Mega Health at Work Inc., dedicated to erasing the stigma of mental illness and providing the tools organizations need to foster improved mental health in the workplace.
Recently, Robin was one of 40 participants selected to attend the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s specialized training to study techniques of applying evidence-informed research in the fields of mental health, substance abuse, and addictions. In 2014 she was honoured with the KW Octoberfest Women of the Year Award for Health & Wellness and in 2003, Robin received the United Way Appreciation and Recognition Award.
“It’s very rewarding to be able to provide people with the tools and the education and the skills to be able to support someone who’s struggling with mental illness.”
Today, Robin continues demonstrating her concern for people through her work as a Mental Health First Aid Instructor to identify the signs and symptoms of mental health issues. Her work with Mega Health includes informal lunch-and-learn sessions, dynamic workshops, as well as speaking engagements before mental health workers, first responders, health and safety workers, HR professionals, and senior management.
As an independent HR consultant, Robin advises organizations of all types and sizes on human resource matters, workplace health, and leadership development, addressing such issues as disability management, legal compliance, and return to work programs. Robin recognizes that each organization is unique. Thus, through focused listening and analysis, she is able to provide customized programs that help organizations maximize productivity through improved worker health and wellness.
In all her activities, Robin demonstrates and encourages a proactive approach to fostering a psychologically healthy work environment that’s more likely to stave off mental illness before it begins.