People who work long hours every week have other problems that they are trying to avoid, while quite likely unaware they have become addicts to their jobs.
This assessment was made by Mental Health and Wellbeing Therapist, Tinashe Masango, who was speaking on the FLOW In the Morning show ‘Bourne to Lead’ with Leo Lightbourne.
The 21-year veteran in the field of mental health, who now plies his trade at Grace Bay Medical in Providenciales, pointed out that when people become fixed at working such long hours they become workaholics, which he said is part of a mental health condition.
“It is actually an addiction,” Masango said. “Being workaholics are people who don’t want to deal with other issues around them.”
He added: “So, for me, when someone shows up and says to me, I am working these hours, I ask them, what are you treating for that? Normally, when you work these long hours, you are trying to keep away from something, or it gives you a good feeling that puts away any bad feeling that is going on with you.
“When people do take a step back, and then we start to explore what’s going on and what part that plays in their lives, then they really realize that there are some things that I really need to deal with because balance is important.”
He suggested that prior to treating for mental health, the process should start with assessing the individual’s wellbeing, and if warranted, treat it.
“We should start with wellbeing before we start treating for mental health. There has to be hours where you can balance your personal life and your work life, and this is something that I think not only the individual should be pushing…there should be companies that should be pushing that too,” he recommended.
In the meantime, Masango pointed out that mental health, for the most part, is misunderstood, and so, people would be ready to dismiss it and recommend prayer at times.
“When we don’t know what we are dealing with we become dismissive,” he pointed out, adding that while he welcomes prayer, he also believes treatment is paramount.
“We (they) would tell people to pray about it, and when it does not work out, we tell them they are not praying enough. (But) we (in the mental health field) also say, pray, but we are here to help you with what’s going on and to treat it,” he explained.
“When you look into the Bible, it is not that Jesus used to say, ‘I only do miracles, I don’t need anybody else to help’. No, he would say there are people who do medicine at that time.
“His miracles were amazing, but medicine was a huge thing at that time in healing people. So, when he would show up and do that (miracles), people would say he must be somebody who was sent by God.
“So, it is not that medicine was not there and he was being dismissive of that. He was just saying that this is also what I do, (which was) almost secondary to what everybody else was doing,” Masango said.
He said the treating of mental health in Afro-Caribbean people was never sufficient in the developed world, and when it was, it was there was always some racial element attached to it.
“So, there was always the issue of this big black schizophrenic guy who is also scary, to the point that unfortunately, we have a lot of incidents where guys were given restraint and killed either in the mental health hospitals or by the police.
“These are people who are suffering with an illness. But it came with that stigma about that ‘big black guy who is dangerous’. And we see that until now, especially over in the U.S.,” he said.
Masango noted, however, that the approach to mental health in the Caribbean is much more pleasing than in the United States or in the United Kingdom. He said in the United States and the UK, the people who come to treat mental health patients are most of the time are of different hues, but more than likely, the people who you see in the Caribbean would “look like you”.
“They will be people who have similar experience to what you are going through,” Masango added.
He recommends that churches play a greater role in tackling mental health since their congregation comprises those from different backgrounds.
Meanwhile, Masango believes that the matter of mental should get similar attention as physical health in the workplace.
“If we are saying that we have a department of mental health within the government and we have a physical health department, we should not be segregating that.
“We really should be pushing to say that if people get to the point where we know that they are unwell, and they have gone to see a practitioner, and he says you need time off, people should start to recognize that this is good for their companies,” he argued.