For over 35 years, Benedict Associates has been providing exceptional services and solutions for the wellbeing, growth and success of individuals, families, organizations and community.
Some issues are complicated. Others are complex. What’s the difference? Complicated problems may be hard to solve, but there are ready solutions, often found through proven processes or algorithms to apply. Complex situations, on the other hand, have many interrelated and dynamic factors, making it impossible to respond with an algorithm. Sending a rover to Mars is complicated. Workplace productivity is complex. So is human health.
Benedict Associates addresses the complexity of both workplace productivity and human health by providing interconnected services that support the well-being, growth and success of individuals, families, organisations and the community. In addition to providing employee assistant programme (EAP) services that help employees manage stress, grief, substance abuse, family problems and psychological disorders, the company offers a student assistance programme, counselling and psychotherapy, private coaching, organisational consulting, leadership training, drug-free workplace programmes, employee testing and assessments, and physician and legal referrals.
Recently, Benedict has added a corporate and community wellness director to its team to provide heath-focused solutions, retreats, and interventions for client companies and individuals. This allows employers to expand their support for employee well-being by offering yoga, spin, strength training and high-intensity classes, as a few examples. Given that human wellness is complex, a multifaceted approach includes physical health.
“The old saying that you leave your home life behind when you come to work is just not true,” says Burgert van Jaarsveldt, assistant managing director of Benedict Associates. “In order for employees to be calm, focused and productive, they need to be mentally well. Employers can provide tools and assistance for mental well-being, with physical health part of that toolbox. Having compassion about what is happening in every facet of an employee’s life means providing the best support when someone is struggling, which helps prevent burnout and crisis.”
About a year and a half into the pandemic, employers have been especially challenged in supporting employees experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety related to their health, the well-being of their family, and their financial stability. An EAP is one way to help employees resolve a variety of issues that contribute to stress, which may be adversely affecting their work performance and morale. Webinars can also provide relevant resources that benefit employees. “We should be very vigilant as people are still navigating the pandemic and trying to establish a new normal,” says van Jaarsveldt. “Stress and anxiety are major concerns, as are unhealthy coping mechanisms like increased alcohol consumption. We also need to acknowledge that hybrid working models will likely demand more resilience from people already worn down by the pandemic. More awareness and a greater focus on mental health is needed.”
Van Jaarsveldt emphasises that tending to our own mental health should be as normal and periodic as having our teeth cleaned or car serviced. If we take care of regular maintenance, we can prevent major breakdowns. The wide array of specialised services Benedict offers, especially access to counselling and therapy, can be used to provide the comfort, support and healing needed by so many Bermudians.
Yet despite some gains in societal acceptance, van Jaarsveldt acknowledges that there is still some stigma attached to talking openly about mental health challenges. “Every single person at some point deals with not being as mentally robust as they normally are,” he says. “We all experience grief, loss, heartache, situational depression, anxiousness and mental exhaustion. We don’t judge others for having a cold or sprained ankle. Mental health is no different. An employer demonstrating compassion and offering support for an employee struggling with a mental health issue sets the tone for the rest of the staff. That’s one important way to reduce the stigma around mental health.”
Human health is the result of a complex system of interrelated factors. But that doesn’t mean that mental health challenges can’t be effectively addressed and relieved. A multifaceted approach is required, from more openness and acceptance to a system of support that takes into account home life, working conditions, individual psychology, physical states and optimal coping strategies. And because people change and learn over time, all these approaches need to adapt and change with them. “One of our strengths at Benedict Associates is our commitment to staying abreast of changes in professions and to continually educating ourselves,” says van Jaarsveldt. “The world does not stand still. People and professions change, grow and adapt. So do we in all of the services and solutions we provide.”