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The Psychiatric Hospital has an unacceptably high level of absenteeism due to sick leave. So far this year, the hospital has recorded an average of 483 absent days among all categories of staff, due to sickness.

Senior Health Promotion Officer in the Ministry of Health, Denise Carter-Taylor, today said that there was a link between this level of absenteeism and stress.

Speaking at the launch of the hospital’s health and wellness programme, she noted that job stress was more strongly associated with health complaints than financial or family problems.

According to the American Institute of Stress, she said, an estimated one million workers miss work each day because of stress, and stress is blamed for 26 per cent of health-related productivity loss in business.

“This level of absence and negative consequences seen is applicable to the local context as the Psychiatric Hospital has a similarly unacceptably high level of absenteeism due to sick leave,” she submitted.

Mrs. Carter-Taylor said: “I am well aware of the impact stress plays in the lives of all employees…Research shows that persons working in the field of health are at a higher risk for experiencing stress, and those in the field of mental health experience a disproportionately higher degree of stress when compared to their counterparts in other sub-specialties of health.”

The Senior Health Promotion Officer praised the health and wellness programme launched by the hospital, submitting that such a programme could reduce the negative trends at the hospital and also impact the national trajectory.

She maintained: “Failure to arrest these trends will result in an increase in health care costs, and in the long run, a reduction of the significant gains which we as a country have made in health care.”

The objectives of the programme, Mrs. Carter-Taylor outlined, were a reduction in sick leave and absent days, increased employee involvement and engagement, improved fitness levels, and an improvement in employee morale.

joy.springer@barbados.gov.bb

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