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MOHW hosts Workplace Wellness Forum

HighlightsMOHW hosts Workplace Wellness Forum

by Khaila Gentle

BELMOPAN, Tues. Aug. 9, 2022
A Workplace Wellness Forum held this week by the Ministry of Health & Wellness focused on addressing the importance of physical well-being as well as mental health—something which the Director of Public Health & Wellness, Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa, says has become a priority in many workplaces across the globe. According to Robyn Daly, a nutritionist in the Ministry of Health & Wellness, the main objective of Tuesday’s forum was to help administrative officers identify wellness strategies that they can begin to incorporate in their workplaces.

“Many staff have challenges—it could be mental health, it could be stress, it could be eating challenges, whatever it may be, but we want to see more being done within the workplace,” she said.

The Ministry’s heightened focus on wellness includes promoting health literacy, improving health education, and reaching out to the population to ensure that they have healthy and stress- free working environments, especially in light of the fact that many persons spend the vast majority of their days at the workplace.

Having a stress-free working environment, says the Director of Health & Wellness, includes ensuring that one’s workplace allows for flexibility when it comes to “getting up and moving around”, promoting healthy habits, and “ensuring that the place you spend the most of your working day is a place that promotes and enhances that preventative care and that wellness function.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) has reported that, in the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic alone, the global prevalence of anxiety and depression increased by a “massive” 25%. In the population of adults aged 18-29, the effects were even worse.

This, says the WHO, should have been a wake-up call to all countries to step up their mental health services and support.

“COVID has caused significant stress in populations globally, and we have seen that as well in Belize, even among healthcare workers, so it’s important that employers, supervisors, create a wellness space at your workplace,” said Dr. Diaz Musa.

The Workplace Wellness Forum also focused on promoting preventative care—something just as important as therapeutic care.

“In Belize, we’ve been very focused on curative care,hospital care, but what we’ve got to do is also refocus on primary care and prevention and promote wellness. So, wellness doesn’t necessarily mean the absence of disease, but having that mental and physical wellness and well-being,” said Dr. Melissa Diaz Musa.

The Ministry is hoping to push people to focus on the aspects of wellness that have been neglected since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as physical screenings for cancer. According to Dr. Diaz Musa, cervical and breast cancer remain two of the leading causes of death in women, along with prostate cancer in men.

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