Members of Power Operations’ network of caregivers went on an awareness tour to open the conversation on mental health and the key role that caregivers play. Sixteen testimonial-based meetings were held in various areas of Power Operations. These meetings concluded with thoughtful, meaningful discussions that paved the way for everyone to bravely talk about mental health.
The caregiver committee is made up of trained hourly and staff employees spread throughout every facility in the region. Power Operations has about twenty caregivers, who are there to listen and help employees in need.
Guy Lavoie, Caregiver and Attendant, said, “The existing management teams are tremendously cooperative as they work along the same lines as us to help employees. When a colleague is struggling, offering support becomes everybody’s number one priority. Much like a big family, we are there for each other, and it is a privilege to feel listened to and supported.”
The idea of meeting with the teams and setting up a conference came about after Régis Fillion, an employee, called on the caregivers’ services while he was going through challenging times. When Mr. Fillion was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2017, the caregivers supported him—particularly Mr. Lavoie, his long-time colleague. “Régis worked for ten years as a prevention representative, and everyone knows and appreciates him,” Mr. Lavoie said. “He has helped many people throughout his career. For me, responding in kind by reaching out to him was only natural. Even though it can be hard for people to find the right words, I encouraged his colleagues to check in with him and keep in touch with him so that he could stay connected to his work when he had to take a break.”
Mr. Fillion wished to share his experience and promote the caregivers’ network, as it was important to him to give back to the people who supported him by highlighting their work.
The conference is a way to give back to those who helped me,” Mr. Fillion said. “Caregivers often work behind the scenes and rarely get a chance to shine. Their work is essential, and they save lives, so highlighting their involvement was a priority for me.”
This is how the conference came together, with the help of Mélanie Gagné, Steeve Côté, and Guy Lavoie, who are all caregivers. Mr. Côté, Caregiver and Coordinator, Business Improvement, said, “We organised a conference in three parts. In the first part, I briefly recounted the depression I experienced in 2015 and the importance of seeking help. In the second part, Mélanie and I talked about the different resources available to employees. And in the third part, Guy shared his experience to explain what led him to become a caregiver. Régis’ testimonial was the highlight of the meeting. By having the courage to speak openly about our experiences, we gave others the courage to open up about their problems.” Ms. Gagné noticed that the employees were very open during these meetings.
When I started working with teams as a caregiver 10 years ago, you could hear a pin drop,” Ms. Gagné said. “Mental health seemed to be nobody’s business, but in fact it was everybody’s business. The change we have seen since then is remarkable, because nowadays people no longer hesitate to share their story, and they no longer feel judged—stigma has given way to emotions, and this gives meaning to our involvement.”