I encourage people to try to understand more about mental health, and forget about the stigma attached to it
“I’ve been an HEU member for about 10 years. I was an Activity Worker for five years. I’m now a Rehabilitation Worker on a tertiary mental health unit.
We work hard to keep our clients safe and to help rehabilitate them back into society. Mental health affects a lot of people in many walks of life and, I would say, touches all of us at some point in our lives.
I don’t think a lot of people really understand the mental health aspect of our medical system. They know the hospital part: people go in for surgery, they get sick and go to the hospital, but the mental health part is kept away from the public eye. I encourage people to try to understand more about mental health, and forget about the stigma attached to it.
Depending on the weather, I like to get clients out for a walk because our units are locked. The only time clients get to go out is if they’re accompanied by a staff member.
On an evening shift, we make ourselves available for clients to socialize: we’ll play some chess, cards, ping-pong, watch TV, or put on a hockey game just to break up the monotony of the day. I ensure the clients’ needs are met in a safe, non-threatening and respectful environment. Often, they just want somebody to talk to.
It’s tough for the clients because they’ve had so much taken away from them. For one, being locked down. And then with COVID, they can’t go out shopping or leave the unit unaccompanied. But they can pre-book a visit to see one family member for a max of an hour.
Clients don’t get to socialize with clients from other units. They used to participate in groups together, but since COVID health protocols came into effect, clients must remain within their bubble.
I always tell our clients how much I appreciate everything they’ve sacrificed to make sure we can get control of the pandemic and let them know what a difference they’ve made, and their contributions to making sure the virus doesn’t get in.”
- Jerry, Mental Health Rehabilitation Worker, part of the health care team