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Support and solutions for psychological distress at work

16 August 2017
Man showing signs of stress and backache
In Quebec, there is no end to reforms in the health and social services sector, which have an adverse psychological impact on the workforce. For more than 20 years, health workers have had to constantly adapt to new standards, guidelines and structures, as determined by different governments.

All these changes have significant negative consequences on the psychological health of the members of the Alliance du Personnel Professionnel et Technique de la Santé et des Serivices Sociaux (APTS), and other health unions. A survey of 7,000 health technicians and technologists confirms our worst fears: the constant reorganization is overwhelming our members. Social workers, occupational therapists, psychologists and physiotherapists, among others, are under unprecedented pressure. 60% of them indicated a high or very high distress index in the survey. And 35% reported that they had missed several days of work over the last twelve months for psychological reasons.

In addition, 60% of the professionals say they have been harmfully affected in their work due to reorganizations within the health and social services system. 60% of the respondents also lamented the little influence they have on their work, while 65% were of the view that they do not have enough time to do their jobs properly.

Successive governments do not sufficiently measure the high human costs of their policies. The fight against deficits is too often to the detriment of the staff, who eventually break down from having to compensate for the non-replacement of colleagues who have retired, and the removal of jobs. The APTS is working tirelessly to ensure that the government takes responsibility for this untenable situation of its members.

The APTS asks the government of Quebec to listen to the technicians and professionals who provide services to the population and know their needs. Members of our communities deserve to receive the best possible services, especially in the context of an aging Quebec society.

Structural measures must be taken now to ensure that the psychological distress of employees in the sector is minimized as much as possible, so that they can deliver optimal services. To do so, all reorganizations that unduly disrupt staff must cease, and the government should reinvest in direct services to the population in order to revamp the sector’s dynamism.

This is why, over the next few months, the APTS intends to ensure that the government complies with its Mental Health Action Plan 2015-2020, which provides for the establishment of working conditions and organizational practices that promote the mental health of staff.

This article is an extract from the “Right to Health” newsletter issue 03/2017. Subscribe to the newsletter. Send us your stories.

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