Kelowna, British Columbia
TRACEY HAWTHORN’S STORY
For the past 30 years, Tracey has used her background in physiotherapy and kinesiology to help people with physical injuries return to work. In 2010, Tracey started as the Work Re-Integration and Accommodation Program Coordinator on the University of British Columbia Okanagan Campus. Soon after she began, Tracey realized that mental health issues play a large role in the return to work of the individuals with physical injuries.
“I knew that I needed to better understand mental health in the workplace to be effective in my role. I saw this as a business and social imperative. The first call I made was to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).”
Tracey already had a history with CMHA because her mother volunteered as a member of the National Executive Committee and as President. Together with CMHA, Tracy developed numerous workshops around mental health and the workplace.
TRACEY GETS LOUD
What Tracey has done to further mental health awareness and support is truly inspiring.
Tracey began networking with her peers. She co-created an employer’s Community of Practice on Psychological Safety and Health in the workplace as well as a Community of Practice for Psychological Health and Safety within Canadian Universities.
In 2014, she offered over 55 workshops to hundreds of staff and faculty on mental health/health and provided suicide prevention training to over 300 students, staff and faculty. A recent survey revealed that 81% of staff and 74% of faculty at UBC Okanagan Campus felt that they know how and where to access mental health and wellbeing resources on campus when needed which is a testament to the outreach the has had on mental health.
“We developed focus groups, and evaluations to determine mental health literacy, needs, and effectiveness of resources. … We trained faculty and staff regarding what mental illness is and isn’t, how to respond to this and how to refer appropriately…. We have provided a collaborative and respectful approach to working with and supporting psychological illness and injury.”
Tracey has had tremendous success in the Work Re-integration and Accommodation Program by focusing on mental health – the average number of sick days for Okanagan staff and managers dropped from 7.3 days in 2009 to 2.5 days in 2013.
“I believe that the support we have provided for our staff and faculty on mental health has allowed them to access the resources that they need to stay and work and lead healthy lives.”
Tracey continues to share her story and her successes with other employers and was recently able to present at the CMHA Bottom Line conference.
“My goal is to inspire others to focus on prevention and support of mental health issues in the workplace so that everyone can be safe and healthy at work.”