Mental health is part of our overall well-being, and so seeking help with mental health should be like seeing your doctor for a stomachache, a broken leg, or other physical illnesses. Yet people who seek help dealing with their anxiety or stress often feel like they are being judged, that there is “something wrong” with them. Worse, they fear their employers would find out and think they can’t do their jobs.
Like the rest of the country – and the world really – federal and D.C. government employees are dealing with the enormous stress of the current COVID-19 pandemic. Department of Veterans Affairs health care professionals and Bureau of Prisons officers, for example, might fear they’re bringing the virus back to their families on top of all the stress that comes from their regular work. Talking about mental health issues should therefore be part of everyday discussions about our well-being.
“Health and safety at work extends to mental and emotional health as well as physical and chemical hazards. Psychological health, mental and emotional support should be part of health and safety programming--not separate issues that workers try to handle on their own,” said AFGE Health and Safety Specialist Milly Rodriguez.
AFGE last year launched new training to help federal and D.C. government workers protect their mental health. We partnered with Kaiser Permanente Labor Management Partnership to provide the tried-and-true resources that help federal workers not only recognize their own anxiety and stress but also help their coworkers navigate the difficult mental health landscape – even when they are working remotely.
This year we held the same training on Jan. 26 and April 28. The next class will be on Aug. 24. Stay tuned for more information on how to sign up.