Lagos State government has concluded plans to activate a state-of-the-art Lagos State Employee Wellness (LASWELL) Center set up to cater for the mental health needs of its workforce.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Health, Dr. Olusegun Ogboye who disclosed this today while co-hosting a virtual Awareness and Sensitization Conference on the LASWELL Centre held via Zoom stated that the Centre which will go live anytime soon was established to provide services that ensure the mental wellness of staff of the Lagos State Government.
He said: “The Lagos State Government recognizes that its employees are its most important resource. Research has shown that when people are happier, they are more creative and more productive in their personal and work lives. We know that when employees thrive, the entire Lagos State community benefits. So the LASWELL Centre was established to support Lagos State employees with both professional and personal concerns that may impact their overall wellbeing”
While noting that the State government remains committed to ensuring that its workforce are both mentally and physically sound, Ogboye posited that the promotion of mental health and well-being of staff are priorities within the state’s development agenda. He added that the state has set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health services that will ensure improved health outcomes which will positively impact on productivity in the state workforce.
“We have set the groundwork for the development of sustainable mental health care programs and services that will ensure improved health outcomes and will positively impact on productivity in the states workforce”, He said.
The Permanent Secretary disclosed that the LASWELL Centre is located on the First Floor of the Folarin Coker Staff Clinic, in a warm, welcoming, and friendly environment noting that the mental health services at the centre will be provided by licensed professionals in various disciplines who are willing and ready to help.
He said that all Ministries, Departments and Agencies have been directed to nominate six members of staff each to be members of wellness champions who will help in reaching out to members of staff who need help.
Ogboye noted that before the activation of the centre, nominated champions from all MDAs will be trained to identify and support other staff who require care to access service at the centre. He added that the training will commence on Friday 24th July 2020.
While thanking members of Staff for attending the meeting, the Permanent Secretary urged members of staff who may be interested in joining the wellness champions but not nominated to signify their interest by volunteering themselves though their various department.
Earlier in her remarks, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Youth and Social development, Mrs. Yewande Falugba who is also a co-host of the webinar conference stated that the idea of the wellness center was borne out of the initiative of the Head of Service, Mr. Muri Okunola to create a permanent solution to address mental health issues among members of staff so as to improve the productivity of the most vibrant Civil service in the country.
Falugba explained that services that will be rendered in the wellness center includes: Mental Health counseling, Organizational psychology, Diagnostic Assessment and Referral adding that the team of health care professional who will work at the centre includes social workers, psychologist and psychiatric Nurses.
She assured that the present administration of Governor Jide Sanwo-Olu will not relent in putting in place policies targeted at promoting sustainable social development.
Dr. Adejoke Abiodun, a consultant psychiatrist who was one of the guest speakers at the conference while making presentation on ‘Recognizing Depression and Anxiety’ stressed the importance of prompt identification of mental health related problems. She noted that mental health of employees are top asset which must be protected stressing mental wellbeing impacts engagement and productivity at work.
She explained that a recent survey on anxiety in the work place found out that people with anxiety have difficulties to cope with common job related situations like meetings deadlines, maintaining personal and professional relationship, participating in meetings participating in meetings, managing staff and dealing with problems that may arise.
Abiodun stated further that many members of staff having mental health issues have fear of sharing their disorder with anyone at work because they are afraid of being signalized and labeled weak.
“It is very important to recognize depression and anxiety disorder and promptly link with help so that productivity will not be affected. Many members of staff are having mental health issues have fear of sharing their disorder with anyone at work because they are afraid of being stigmatized or labeled weak”, She said.
Other speakers at the virtual conference include Dr. Gbonjubola Babalola, consultant psychiatrist who spoke on Managing Stress and Building Resilience; Dr. Layeni Adebayo, a consultant psychiatrist who spoke on Signs and Symptoms of Suicide and Self Harm; Dr. Ayodele Olurotimi Coker, an Associate Professor of Psychiatry who spoke on Emotional Intelligence and Dr. Ajibola Keshinro, Medical Director, General Hospital Apapa who spoke on Dealing with Substance Abuse.