CORNER BROOK Bernard Kenny is in-between jobs right now, but hopes his efforts to land full-time work will get a boost from a scholarship he has won.
The Corner Brook resident is currently studying an occupational health and safety program through the College of the North Atlantic’s department of continuing education.
He had heard about the Dick Martin Scholarship, offered annually by the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety, back when he enrolled in the college program in 2011.
Last fall, when the call for entries was made, he decided to write the essay required for consideration. Instead of the suggested topic of workplace violence, Kenny chose the option of picking his own topic.
He submitted his essay about mental health in the workplace in January and was notified last month that he was one of the two winners selected this year.
Kenny was inspired to write the essay after hearing about a university professor’s report on the significance of balancing work and home life and a survey that indicated a majority of people have some sort of workplace mental health issue, whether it is stress or depression.
“I knew I had a topic there that was relevant now for what’s been happening in the workplace today,” said Kenny.
In his paper, Kenny looked at how to approach workplace mental health issues from an occupational health and safety perspective, much like an back or soft muscle tissue injury would be approached. The problem is, dealing with a mental health concern may not be as straight-forward as filling out an injury report form and then gradually bringing the employee back to work after the physical ailment has subsided.
“If someone in your organization is dealing with a mental health issue, like stress or depression, how do you know and how do you help this person?” he said.
The other scholarship winner was Laure-Elise Forel from Quebec, who wrote about psychological distress and suicide risks for farmers. The two winners each received a $3,000 award, while their respective academic institutions received awards of $500.
The Corner Brook campus of the College of the North Atlantic will be donating its $500 towards the Steps for Life program, which helps support programs and services for families affected by workplace fatalities, life-altering injuries or occupational disease.
The Dick Martin Scholarship is named after the former governor of the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety who was considered a pioneer advocate for workplace health and safety.