TAKING AN ACTIVE ROLE IN EMPLOYEE MENTAL HEALTH
By Bob Chrismas
Mental health challenges touch almost every Canadian. We all have a loved one or colleague dealing with mental health issues. One or more of your work colleagues, or employees are likely suffering, often in silence. Research finds over 20 per cent of workers have mental health challenges. Over 500,000 Canadians cannot work because of mental health issues.
Employers can only gain by helping to look after the mental health of their workforce. Improving employee mental health can reduce sick-time usage and increase productivity. Employers should consider what causes stress, support employee resilience, and have inclusive plans. We need to reduce ongoing stress, as well as crisis moments and trauma that can occur in any workplace.
What plans do you have in place for employee well-being if your workplace was to burn down or get robbed? How are you identifying causes of stress and employees’ response to it? We need to consider not only what occurs in the workplace but also the silent baggage that many carry to work. All these factors can affect the employee in the workplace. We now understand that in the past, we did far too little.
The signs and symptoms of stress and mental health issues are diverse. I will not even attempt to list them in this brief article. Money spent to assess and identify issues will have a high return on investment.
Some of the most obvious workplace stressors are also opportunities to improve. The first is showing we are aware and care. Promote mental health awareness. Assess resources and help employees understand and access them. Provide training for managers and front-line staff. Ask employees for input and show transparency in addressing their concerns. Sometimes we can reduce stress and improve morale at no more cost. It could be as simple as adjusting shift schedules or showing flexibility.
Identifying issues can sometimes be more difficult than it sounds. Employers can educate themselves on the common causes of stress. Develop processes to identify when staff is having difficulties. It could be as simple as well-being checks. Discuss decreased performance, increased complaints, or sick time usage. Sometimes there is a cause that we can fix.
Employees should know where they stand. Employers can improve this through open communication. Team meetings to highlight and raise awareness of processes and resources can help.
Management and employees should all be familiar with the process for post-traumatic events. They should know what to expect after a robbery or the death of a co-worker. It should not be only for drastic events.
I am reminded of a police psychologist who once said to me: Everyone experiences post-traumatic stress. Only some develop into full-blown disorders.
Employees also have a role to play in their own well-being. Management should remind them of the importance of relationships. Encourage them to practice mindfulness. Support and encourage physical health and resilient emotional well-being. Bringing in a yoga instructor or meditation leader for a lunch break can go a long way. Consider installing workout equipment and offering time to use it. We can remind employees about positive lifestyles, and work-home balance.
Most of this resonates as common sense. The reality is it does not happen on its own. It takes a deliberate effort and sensitivity to people’s well-being.
Bob Chrismas MPS, Ph.D. is a post-doctoral fellow with the Canadian Institute of Public Safety Research and Treatment. His current research focuses on mental health resources for emergency service personnel. Bob has served in law enforcement for over 35 years with a diverse policing career. Bob has published four books and many articles on justice-related issues. Learn more about Bob at BChrismas.com
Bob Chrismas’s Publications:
Dream Catcher: The Call Home. New York: DIO Press (2023).
The River of Tears. New York: DIO Press (2021).
Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth. Toronto, ON, Canada: University of Toronto Press (2020).
Canadian Policing in the 21st Century: A Frontline Officer on Challenges and Changes. Montreal, Canada: McGill- Queen’s University Press (2013).
• Runner-up for best non-fiction, Manitoba Book Awards, 2013.
Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey. New York: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield (Laura Reimer and Bob Chrismas, 2020).
Modern Day Slavery and the Sex Industry: Raising the Voices of Survivors and Collaborators While Confronting Sex Trafficking and Exploitation in Manitoba, Canada. Available online at MSpace, University of Manitoba (2017).
• University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award, 2017
McFee, D. & R. Chrismas (2020). “The Evolution of Canadian Policing and Reconciliation” in Reimer, L. & R. Chrismas. (2020, in press). Our Shared Future: Windows into Canada’s Reconciliation Journey. New York: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield.
Chrismas, R. (2019).“Raising the Voices of Survivors and Collaborators Confronting Sex Trafficking and Exploitation of Indigenous Women and Girls in Manitoba, Canada” in Jennifer Markides & Laura Forsythe. (2019). Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing, Chapter 7, p. 63-72. New York, New York: DIO Press Inc.
Chrismas, R. (2019). “The Meaning of Words: Qualitative Research Addressing Social Challenges.” In Reimer, L., Standish, K., Thiessen, C. (2019). Expanding the Edges of Narrative Enquiry: Research from the Mauro Institute. New York, NY: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield.
Chrismas, R. (2018). “Stories From Survivors of Canada’s Sex Industry.” in Conflict Transformation, Peace-building and Storytelling: Research from the Mauro Centre. Volume 1, Chapter 4. New York: Lexington Books, Rowman & Littlefield.
Peer-reviewed journal articles:
Milliard, B. and R. Chrismas. (2023). “View of Mental Health Secretariat: Collaboration for public safety personnel (PSP) mental health in Ontario.” Journal of Community Safety and Well-Being, Vol 8(Suppl 1), February.
Chrismas, R. and Brandi Chrismas (2021) “Modern Day Slavery Human Rights and the Sex Industry,” Journal of Community Safety and Well Being. vol. 6 no. 4 (December) p. 179-183.
Hodzic, S. & R. Chrismas. (2019).“The Politics of Pot in Canada: Consumers, Enforcers and Profiteers.” Journal of Community Safety and Well Being. vol. 4 no. 2 (August) p.19-21.
Chrismas, R. (2019). “All the flowers may die, but the thistles will live”: Sex trafficking through the eyes of a police officer-researcher.” Dignity: A Journal of Sexual Exploitation and Violence. vol. 4, Iss. 1, Article 7.
Chrismas, R. (2018). “The Power in Stories That Cannot Be Replaced.” The Qualitative Report, 23 (12), p. 3118-35.
Hodzic, S. & R. Chrismas (2018). “Taking Back the Power: The link between poverty and Canada’s sex industry.” Journal of Community Safety and Well Being. vol. 3 no. 2, (October) p. 34-37.
Chrismas, R. (2018). “Gaining a fuller picture of sex trafficking in Manitoba: A case study of narrative-based research utilizing ‘low tech’ thematic analysis.” Journal of Research Practice, 14 (1). Athabasca University.
Chrismas, R. & S. Byrne. (2018). “The Evolving Peace and Conflict Studies Discipline.” The Journal For Peace and Justice Studies.” vol. 27 issue 2, p. 98-118.
Chrismas, R. (2018). “Police Corruption and Canada’s Distinction.” African Journal of Humanities and Social Sciences. vol. 1, issue 1. p. 9-23.
Chrismas, Brandi & R. Chrismas. (2017). “What are we doing to protect newcomer youth in Canada, and help them succeed?” (December) Journal of Community Safety and Well Being. vol. 2 no. 3, (December) p. 87-90.
Chrismas, R. (2016). “Policing on Turtle Island: The Continued Evolution of Policing and First Nations Peoples in Canada.” Journal of Community Safety and Well Being, vol. 1, no. 2 (August) p. 44-50.
Chrismas, R. (2016). “Perceptions on Confronting Sexual Exploitation in Canada: An Introduction to New Primary Research.” Journal of Community Safety and Well Being, vol. 1, no. 2 (August) p. 4-6.
Chrismas, R. (2013). “Multi-Track Diplomacy and Canada’s Indigenous Peoples.” Peace Research: The Canadian Journal of Peace and Conflict, vol. 45, no. 1, p. 5- 30.
Chrismas, R. (2012). “The people are the police: Building trust with Aboriginal communities in contemporary Canada.” Canadian Public Administration vol. 55, no. 3 (September) p. 451–70.
Chrismas, R. (2012). “An Arranged Marriage: police-media conflict and collaboration.”Canadian Graduate Journal of Sociology and Criminology. vol. 1, issue 1 (October) p. 43-51.
Professional journals/magazine articles:
Chrismas, R. (2021). “What does it mean to be a good company?” Convenience and Carwash Canada.
Chrismas, R. (2021). “How a Truck Stop Waitress Solved a Serial Murder Case in Canada.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (September).
Chrismas, R. (2021). “Convenience stores can be safe havens” Convenience and Carwash Canada (july/August).
Chrismas, R. (2021). “How can convenience stores be good citizens?” Convenience and Carwash Canada (May/June).
Chrismas, R. (2021). “The most important six inches in self defence.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (April).
Chrismas, R. (2021). “Think Like a Thief: Cyber Security For Your Business.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (February).
Chrismas, R. (2020). “The Freedom of Convenience.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (November).
Chrismas, R. (2020). “Sex Industry Slavery: Protecting Canada’s Youth.” Blog for University of Toronto Press web page.
Chrismas, R. (2020). “Good Help is Hard to Keep: Employee Retention in the Post-COVID Era.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (July).
Chrismas, R. (2020). “Enhance Your Success By Keeping Employees Safe.” Carwash & Convenience Magazine (February issue).
Chrismas, R. (2019). “Ethnic Diversity in Policing.” Justice Report, vol. 34. no. 1 (February). Canadian Criminal Justice Association.
Chrismas, R. (2019). “Selling Cannabis.” Convenience and Carwash Canada (January issue).
Chrismas, R. (2018). “Why Write?” Blog for Institute of Public Administration, Canada- Manitoba Chapter.
Chrismas, R. (2018). “Protecting employees and customers from drug-fueled violence.” Convenience and Carwash Canada. (Spring issue).
Hodzic, Sandra and R. Chrismas. (2018). “Protecting Refugee Children from Gangs.” Manitoba School Councillor. (Spring).
Chrismas, R. (2016). “Confronting sex trafficking and exploitation in Canada.” Multi-Briefs (February).
Chrismas, R. (2015). “The Colonial Wake, Reconciliation and Community Oriented Policing with Inuit, Metis and First Nations People in Canada.” Justice Report, vol. 30. no. 3 (September). Canadian Criminal Justice Association.
Chrismas, R. & C. Ponce-Joly (2015). “Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration- An Essential Tool and Skill of Responsible Public Service in High-Risk Service Provision” Justice Report, vol. 30. no. 2 (June). Canadian Criminal Justice Association.
Chrismas, R. (2015). “Community Policing in the Age of Technology.” Justice Report, vol. 29, no. 4 (Fall). Canadian Criminal Justice Association.
Chrismas, R. (2014). “Is Your Agency Up to The Challenges of Modern Administration?”ImPact, Institute of Public Administration, Canada. (April).
Chrismas, R. (2013). “Law Enforcement and Change” Law Enforcement Today. (August).
Chrismas, R. (2013). “A Frontline Officer Reflects” Blue Line Magazine. (September).
Chrismas, R. (2014, 4 October). “Winnipeg’s compassionate past still needed.” Winnipeg Free Press.
Chrismas, R. (2014, 6 September). “The life some people choose, but nobody wants.” Winnipeg Free Press.
Chrismas, R. (2014, 2 August). “Do police give different treatment to different neighbourhoods?” Winnipeg Free Press.
Chrismas, R. (2014, 5 July). “Shared responsibility the only solution to social problems.” Winnipeg Free Press.
Chrismas, R. (2014, 5 April). “We can pay now or pay more later.” Winnipeg Free Press.
Chrismas, R. (2014, 4 January). “It’s our future: what are we doing for youth?” Winnipeg Free Press.
Proud to be counted among these world-class researchers from the Mauro Institute, in this volume on narrative inquiry and qualitative approaches. Congrats to the editors and all the authors, all my colleagues in peace and conflict studies.
My chapter is in the powerful subjective meaning of words and what can be lost when we rely too much on numbers alone.
This text book on a shelf at Red River College caught my eye, for what looks like a fascinating course called “policing in the 21st century” being offered this spring. I may have to check it out.
Saturday May 04 2019 7:00 pm – Grant Park in the Atrium, Winnipeg
Launch of Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing (DIO Press) hosted by Niigaan Sinclair and featuring guests Dr. Robert Chrismas, Iloradanon Efimoff, Naithan Lagace, and Belinda Wandering Spirit Nicholson
This book is an interdisciplinary collection of Indigenous research and scholarship that pushes boundaries of expectation and experience. While the topics are diverse there are many points of affinity across the issues including themes of identity, advocacy, community, rights, respect, and resistance. The authors present counter-narratives that disrupt colonial authority towards multiple ways of knowing.
Laura Forsythe, co-editor of this interdisciplinary and collaborative project, is a Métis Ph.D. student at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Native Studies working in Métis Educational Sovereignty with a University of Manitoba Graduate Fellowship. Forsythe works as the Métis Inclusion Coordinator for the University of Manitoba.
Iloradanon Efimoff is a Haida and European Settler from the North West Coast of BC and a 2018 Vanier Scholar. As a Ph.D. student at the University of Manitoba in the Department of Psychology Efimoff focuses on creating anti-racist educational interventions to reduce racism directed towards Indigenous people on campus
Naithan Lagace is a Métis Masters of Arts in the Department of Native Studies whose research focuses on the complexities of Indigenous Peoples and their representations in video games. Currently, Naithan is teaching Indigenous focused courses at the University of Winnipeg as well as the University of Manitoba and will continue their academic career in a Ph.D. program in September 2020.
Belinda Wandering Spirit Nicholson is an Indigenous Ally and Master student in the Department of Native Studies whose research focuses on deconstructing the coded messages of whiteness found in missionary’s texts used with Indigenous children in the Great Lakes area. Wandering Spirit Nicholson is a mother of five and a long-standing teaching assistant at the University of Manitoba.
Dr. Bob Chrismas completed a Doctorate in Peace and Conflict Studies at the Arthur V. Mauro Centre for Peace and Justice at the University of Manitoba focused on interrupting sex trafficking and exploitation of Indigenous women and girls in Canada. Chrismas was awarded the University of Manitoba Distinguished Dissertation Award. With over thirty-five years of law enforcement experience in Manitoba, Chrismas started his career during Manitoba’s Aboriginal Justice Inquiry and has published widely on Justice issues in Canada.
Host Dr. Niigaan Sinclair is Anishinaabe (St. Peter’s/Little Peguis), a Winnipeg Free Press Columnist, and associate professor in the Department of Native Studies at the University of Manitoba.
Thank-you Jennifer and Laura, for adding my chapter on violence the Canada’s strong Indigenous women have contended with.
Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing is an interdisciplinary collection of Indigenous research and scholarship that pushes boundaries of expectation and experience. While the topics are diverse, there are many points of affinity across the issues including themes of identity, advocacy, community, rights, respect, and resistance. The authors present counter-narratives that disrupt colonial authority towards multiple ways of knowing.
Regardless of worldview or specialization, the chapters in this book have something to offer. Like the whorl of a spiral, the curve can be observed as traveling inward or outward. At different points in the conversations, the assertions may be congruent or disparate from the reader’s perspective. The discussions may resonate on individual or societal levels. While tensions may arise, the push and pull of competing constructs demonstrates that the ideas are connected and held in relationship to one another—negotiating alterity is a space of reconciliation. Together the pieces contrast, blend, and broaden the landscape of Indigenous research and decolonizing discourse.
“I hope you enjoy the critical and creative gifts here and witness and participate in the vibrancy, dynamism, and beauty of Indigenous scholarship.” – Niigaan Sinclair, Associate Professor, Department of Native Studies, University of Manitoba, from the Foreword of Research Journeys in/to Multiple Ways of Knowing.
Cover art by: Jonathan Chin. The spiral image was drawn to represent the seven sacred teachings and honours the artwork of Dr. Joane Cardinal-Schubert. The art piece was created in winter 2016, as part of a final assignment in the EDUC 530 – Indigenous Education course, within the undergraduate teacher education program in the Werklund School of Education, University of Calgary.
Thank-you as well to Professor Donna Hughes, University of Rhode Island, for your guidance with this article.
I am grateful to the many participants who agree to take the time to be interviewed for this research. I thank the survivors for opening their hearts and exposing their compelling stories for the greater good of preventing people from being exploited and assisting others to escape the sex industry. I also acknowledge and appreciate the professionals, researchers, police, social workers, and NGO staff who work tirelessly for social justice. The opinions expressed in this article are my own and not the Winnipeg Police Service. Dignity thanks the following people for their time and expertise to review this article: Robert Jensen, professor emeritus, School of Journalism, University of Texas at Austin; and Joan Reid, associate professor criminology, University of South Florida at St. Petersburg. Dignity also thanks Jody Raphael, DePaul College of Law, Chicago, Illinois, for her time editing this article.
Click here for FULL MAGAZINE
Thanks to early alumni of the program, Laura Reimer, Katarina Standish and Chuck Thiessen for putting it together.
Chapter 1. Sharing Circles: The Benefits and Limitations in Peacebuilding Initiatives
Dr. Cathy Rocke
Chapter 2. Applying the Conflict Transformation Lens to Understand Why Indigenous Canadians Drop Out of School
Dr. Laura Reimer
Chapter 3. Peacebuilding Projects as a Conflict Transformation Tool: A Meso-level Perspective from Winnipeg
Dr. Kawser Ahmed
Chapter 4. Stories From Survivors of Canada’s Sex Industry
Dr. Bob Chrismas
Chapter 5. Hermeneutic Phenomenological Understandings of Canadian Soldiers’ Experiences in Peace Support Operations
Dr. Patlee Creary
Chapter 6. Racialized and Gendered Peacebuilding in the U.S.-Mexico Border Justice Movement
Dr. Jodi Dueck-Read
Chapter 7. The Role of Transitional Justice in Conflict Transformation and Peacebuilding in Kenya
Dr. Peter Karari
Chapter 8. Living with Others: Learning for Peace and Global Citizenship
Dr. Lloyd Kornelsen
Chapter 9. Players or Pawns? Protest, Participation, and Principled Nonviolence at the 1968 Summer Olympics
Dr. Chris Hrynkow
Chapter 10. Towards an Integrated Framework of Conflict Resolution and Transformation in Environmental Policymaking: Case Study of the North American Great Lakes Area
Dr. Olga Skarloto
Chapter 11. “You’re sitting in my desk!” Researching the ‘Past in the Present’ in Israel
Dr. Katerina Standish
Chapter 12. The Challenge of Local Ownership of Peacebuilding in Afghanistan: Dependency, Biased Coordination, and Scant Timelines
Dr. Chuck Thiessen
— Neil Funk-Unrau, Associate Professor of Conflict Resolution and Associate Dean of Menno Simons College, a College of Canadian Mennonite University
— Vern Redekop, professor emeritus, Saint Paul University
— Cathryne L. Schmitz, University of North Carolina