Mental Health and Its Impact On Productivity

mental healthEveryone has the right to employment in conditions of security, equity, freedom and human dignity. For persons with mental health problems, achieving this right is a challenge.

According to the World Health Organization (2001), mental health is defined as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community’. However, in today’s workforce many people seem to be plagued by this disease and it is often overlooked as they are usually hidden by individuals in the workplace. For people suffering from mental illness, social exclusion is often the hardest barrier to overcome and is usually associated with feelings of shame, fear and rejection. Therefore, the stigma that is attached to having a psychiatric disorder dissuades most from admitting to its existence. There is also a reluctance to seek treatment out of fear that it could result in job loss.

As a result, mental health disorders often go unrecognised and untreated. This is not only detrimental to an individual’s health and career but it also influences productivity in the workplace. Mental illnesses have a huge effect on interpersonal relationships at work. People who suffer from mental illness may withdraw from others, act in unexpected ways or take a lot of time off. This can therefore strain relationships with supervisors and co-workers.

Employee performance, rates of illness, absenteeism, accidents and staff turnover are all affected by employees’ mental health status.

Treatment, if applied could ultimately alleviate symptoms for the employee and improve job performance. However, accomplishing these aims, especially in St. Lucia, will require a shift in attitudes as they relate to the nature of mental health disorder. Common mental health problems that can be found in the workplace include depression, bipolar disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and anxiety. The symptoms of which are all highly documented, but they tend to manifest differently at work. Although, effective mental health services are multidimensional, the workplace is an appropriate environment in which to educate individuals and raise their awareness on mental health. It is highly suggested that companies acknowledge and invest in the mental health of their employees. Not only for the sake of their employed workforce but also for the company. When organisations focus on the practical things that can be done to alleviate mental illness in the workplace the numbers of hours worked and productivity improves. Therefore, in the long term, costs spent on mental health care may represent an investment that will pay off- not only in healthier employees, but also for the company’s financial health.

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How to be a Productive Intern this Summer…

St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association Apprenticeship Scheme Intern Melissa Mondesir

St. Lucia Hotel and Tourism Association Apprenticeship Scheme Intern Melissa Mondesir

Internships provide real world experience to those looking to explore or gain the relevant knowledge and skills required to enter into a particular career field. Internships are relatively short term in nature with the primary focus on getting some on the job training and taking what’s learned in the classroom and applying it to the real world.

Internships are an excellent way to begin building those all-important connections that are invaluable in developing and maintaining a strong professional network for the future.

Each year, thousands of students gain experience by doing summer internships. In order to be successful at your internship this summer here are seven tips that could help you make your stint productive.

Start your day early

Set your morning alarm earlier than usual and swing by the office ahead of time. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this extra time in the morning can be very useful. This allows you the chance to complete a few tasks, check your inbox, and feel less rushed throughout the day.

Write  down  everything

Whether you consider yourself to be an absorbent sponge it never hurts to carry a notebook. When you have to remember important information, you won’t need to waste time racking your brain, but can open up your handy notes instead. Invest in a quality notebook or two and always keep them handy throughout the day for easy access.

Utilize to-do lists     

Keeping a planner or to-do list can be help you keep track of your daily and weekly assignments as an intern. Remember, time management is crucial to becoming more productive. You will be thankful that you have everything scheduled neatly once your tasks and weekly meetings start to pile up.

 Take regular breaks

Taking regular breaks may sound counterproductive however this will increase your performance at work. Studies have shown that breaks can help increase attention span as well as prevent fatigue and eyestrain from sitting at your desk all day. Everyone needs time to unwind and stretch- take a water break, make small talk with staff or take a few minutes to meditate.

Eat snacks
Don’t go hungry during your internship; snack on some healthy treats for extra energy and brain power. Skip the  sugary sweets that can make you feel sluggish and grab something quick for the office for example almonds (a handful is rich in vitamin E, calcium, and potassium), fresh or dried fruits (naturally sweet and also strengthen your immune system), or carrots with hummus (which has protein, calcium, iron, and can improve your eyesight).

Ask for help

Try to avoid being the intern who refreshes their outlook inbox every five seconds waiting for something to do. Ask your supervisor or any other colleague in your department if there are additional tasks that needs to be done. Always ask for guidance if you are unsure of how to complete tasks and bear in mind that you are there to learn and grow. Showing initiative and interest will definitely increase opportunities for growth.

 Meet everyone you can 

You’re an intern in an office filled with industry professionals make use of this opportunity to network. Start by saying “hello” to people in the hallways, and always make sure to introduce yourself. The connections you make at your internship can not only keep you busy at work today, but also land you your dream job five years down the line. Remember to stay connected with everyone you meet (and add them on LinkedIn)!

Judge Appointed to Rule on Commercial Matters

court-hammer_thumbSaint Lucia will soon have the ability to settle commercial disputes with the appointment of a judge to rule on commercial matters in a timely manner.  High Court Judge -Justice Cadie St. Rose- Albertini was appointed to preside over such matters effective July 1, 2015 for the next three years. The Government of Saint Lucia has identified the establishment of a Commercial Division to its High Court as a high priority reform which will ultimately impact Saint Lucia’s competitive position and its overall development.  In the 2013/2014 Budget Address, the Honourable Prime Minister endorsed the Division and partnered with the Compete Caribbean Program for funding support in its implementation.

This ongoing project is coordinated by the National Competitiveness & Productivity Council and the Ministry of Legal Affairs in collaboration with the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. Last year, the NCPC with support from Compete Caribbean embarked on the design of the Commercial Division to the High Court based on the experiences of a similar court in the British Virgin Islands which has been internationally recognized as a good model. The design is now complete and the NCPC as well as the Ministry is in the process of taking the necessary steps to establish the Division.

Additionally, the establishment of this mechanism will increase Saint Lucia’s competitiveness in the regional and international market. The World Economic Forum defines competitiveness as

The set of institutions, policies and factors that determine the level of productivity of a country.”

Therefore, the presence of a set of institutions in a country that support businesses results in increased productivity and competitiveness. Thus, the operations of a Commercial Division can impact the competitiveness of a country through the promotion of business and investment prospects. The Commercial Division may contribute to a healthy investment climate which encourages investment into the country thus leading to economic growth.

This project will mark the start of enhancing the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Ranking for Saint Lucia and the overall business climate, through the Enforcing Contract indicator. For a number of years, this has been one of Saint Lucia’s worse performing indicators. That is, in 2015 Saint Lucia ranks 145 out of 189 economies on this indicator. On average, it takes 635 days and 46 procedures to settle a commercial dispute. Saint Lucia’s low ranking on this indicator is mainly due to the long delays in the trial and judgment phase. Frequently, after a case is filed, the parties have to wait over a year for a court date.

In general, the hiring of a Resident Judge to rule on commercial disputes will result in the speedy and efficient resolution of commercial disputes permits the court to be competitive and to support the business sector. In countries where contract enforcement is efficient, businesses are more likely to engage borrowers and customers which will translate to more business activity for firms.

It is expected that the new Division will be formally opened by the end of this year. It is anticipated that the Division will increase the efficiency of the legal system to settle commercial matters including contract enforcement.

The establishment of the Commercial Division cannot be realised without the associated legislative amendments or changes. It is expected that amendments will be made to the Code of Civil Procedure and the Civil Code as well as other pieces of legislation pertinent to the operations of the Commercial Division.  Compete Caribbean has provided support for the revision of these pieces of legislation and will also assist in equipping the court.