Work-related pressures can lead to several problems including alcoholism and drug addiction. It is here that centres such as the TT Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation play an important role in creating awareness. PERVIZ BHOTE writes...
SATISH CHANDER was working for a production unit that was facing a resource crunch. The fear of a lay-off triggered the urge to take to alcohol to relieve stress. The remedy, however, soon became a habit, bringing in its wake violence, hatred, mental and physical abuse, disharmony in family life and loss of self-esteem. It was a friend who took the initiative and recommended the de-addiction centre of the TT Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation to Satish, where he underwent therapy. Today, Satish is on the way to regain the joy of living with a sense of responsibility and discipline. His family also received counselling and was taught pre-empt methods to troubleshoot a relapse.
Management of emerging health-related problems at the work place is becoming an important agenda for industry and business. Latest trends reveal that the workforce in the `high production age group' both in industrialised and developing countries tend to become a victim of stress-related problems alcoholism, drug addiction, tobacco consumption, AIDS, and violence. This results in low productivity, rise in accidents, fatal injuries, disease and absenteeism.
Entrepreneurs with a vision have realised that health and safety issues are an integral part of an economically sound business. Highlighting the need for this approach is the ILO developed training package SOLVE being offered by the T.T. Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation (TTK Hospital, Ph: 4918461, 4912948), where a five-day training workshop for senior level executives and workers' representatives from industries just concluded.
Vittorio Di Martino, one of the designers of the package, avers that SOLVE seeks to sensitise business to the need of putting into place a comprehensive policy that will ensure better work performance. The programme aims to assist governments, employers and workers, and is the first step towards developing action-oriented solutions to health related problems at work.
The result improved psycho-social working conditions, reduced costs and improved productivity. The impact will be felt not only by the worker and the community. The employer, who has invested time and effort, is also rewarded through timely intervention. In most countries, where the new strategy has been introduced, interest was generated not only because the programme is economically viable, but also because it gives industry a human face.
The TTK Hospital is a unique example of private sorrow blossoming into a social mission. Shanthi Ranganathan, who spearheads the institution with dedication and determination, has established a centre of research and care where the harmony of life is recaptured for those who have fallen victim to alcohol and drugs.
The TTK Hospital is a non-profit organisation, which specialises in addiction management by creating awareness about the problem and treating it through medical management, community meetings, individual counselling, re-educative lectures, group therapy, art therapy and exposure to self-help programmes.
In an effort to bring into its ambit other aberrations that mar individual and family life, the TT Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation has embarked upon the SOLVE strategy, offering to train HRD personnel and workers' representatives to recognise the early signs of health problems and take preventive measures to restore the mental and physical well-being of the employee.
Dr. Pratima Murthy, a consultant and trainer at the TTK Hospital says that stress and violence were hitherto not recognised as prime causes for low productivity. Of late, however, it has been established that the pressures of increased worldwide competition, and the emergence of new technologies resulting in de-skilling, downsizing and job-loss, result in excessive physical and psychological stress to the worker. This is true for both the white and blue collared workers.
The stress factor is higher in women as they work both inside and outside the home. Janani, working in a garment factory is a case study of a woman, with heavy workload but little decision-making power at home and the factory. A total lack of social support led to stressful situation resulting in poor quality work, low productivity and loss of job. She was blamed by the family for the loss of income and physically abused. After an unsuccessful bid at suicide, her friend brought her to the centre for treatment and counselling, and her family was counselled to accept and appreciate her worth.
Negative stress, like in Janani's case, can suppress creativity, innovation and learning, and activate a variety of physical and emotional symptoms that can lead to more serious diseases such as burnout, emotional exhaustion or even suicide.
Similarly, suffering and humiliation resulting from bullying, mobbing, victimisation, sexual and racial harassment could also lead to a lack of motivation, loss of confidence and reduced self-esteem. Left untackled, these could lead to illness, psychological disorders, seeking refuge in tobacco, alcohol and drugs.
In the case of a person who is known to be HIV positive, he/she is discriminated and a stigma is attached to him/her. This forces the worker to leave the job. If the problem is not attended to by the company, it will soon be confronted with increased labour costs and a decline in productivity.
Centres like the TT Ranganathan Clinical Research Foundation, that create an awareness so that more and more people can make informed and sensible choices, are a necessary component of the social fabric in an age where efficiency and productivity take the driving seat.
(Names of patients have been changed)
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