Reprinted from the "Workplace: Transitions" issue of Visions Journal, 2016, 11 (3), p4
The start of a new year seems an appropriate time to talk about transitions, changes and new paths. So, off the heels of our Youth Transitions issue, we bring you another Transitions issue: this one on workplaces. (Speaking of workplace transitions, a congrats to our new professional editor Jillian Shoichet on her first issue!)
What may not be very clear until you read on is that our subtheme is really about leaving-related transitions and work—things like retiring, going on medical or disability leave, being laid off, being fired, switching careers and so on. Given the overwhelming response from people wanting to share their experiences, we seem to have hit a chord. Mental health and substance use indeed get tangled up—in good and less good ways—with leaving the labour force, temporarily or permanently, as cause and/or effect.
Labour force statistics tend to focus on those who are unemployed but looking for work; this Visions asks about their stories—and beyond. So how did they become unemployed? How was mental health a factor (before or after)? And in the “employed” box, what about those on leave? Or on income assistance but working some of the time? Or among those who are part-time, full-time or self-employed, who would like to transition to another group? And what about the “not in labour force” box? We got a bit of a window into the concerns and aspirations of young people facing that transition in the last issue. But what about the recently retired or semi-retired or stay-at-home caregiver? Who’s doing or did well in that transition and who needs more support? What happens after or between the goodbye or get well cards? And what of the departures that never get those kinds of cards…
A supportive workplace is so important to everyone’s well-being. So is having the choice about how and when you want to work and when you want or need to leave employment. When that choice (and often timing too) is someone else’s, transitions are that much harder, and how and if you’ll return has a lot of question marks. Let’s support our colleagues better so we have fewer exits that are traumatic and more that are liberating turning points.
About the author
Sarah is Visions Editor and Director of Mental Health Promotion at the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division