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A holistic approach to being well


What is well-being? I’d suggest that it’s more than simply being well, or attaining “wellness.” It’s more than being just physically healthy and vigorous; rather, it’s that overall sense of physical, mental, and emotional “rightness” that is often achievable, but oh so fleeting.

As I walked through the displays and listened to some of the speakers at the recent Health, Work & Wellness Conference in Calgary, I grew increasingly convinced that what many of us are seeking is not simply  wellness, but well-being. Maybe it’s because for the first time, many, if not most, of the service providers – EAP providers or consultants – were not focused on physical health, but mental and emotional health and  eell-being as well.

There was information on how to recognize the signs of depression and other mental health conditions – do  rou know that there is now training on mental health first aid?

Achieving a sense of well-being, though, is about more than good mental health. The overall theme of the  conference was about giving back, which was perfectly illustrated in the opening keynote presented by a  panel chaired by Dr. Graham Lowe, of The Graham Lowe Group Inc. He and his fellow panel members provided very concrete examples of how companies both large and small can give back to their employees and their communities. Richard Gotfried, VP of Alberta’s Trico Homes, discussed how this smallish residential home builder gives back to the community by supporting a number of charitable works. Not only do they support various charities on a corporate level, but they support individual employees who volunteer by, for instance, offering the flexibility to volunteer during normal working hours. Bruce MacLellan, president and CEO of Toronto-based communication consultants Environics, discussed how reducing the company’s carbon footprint has made a significant and tremendous difference not only to the company’s bottom line, but  to employee’s work satisfaction and wellbeing. Finally, Barry Munro, managing partner in Ernst & Young’s Calgary office, focused on how the large consulting firm has grown to realize that they are the training ground and résume-builders for young graduates – and how E&Y has developed mentoring and leadership growth opportunities for these future leaders.

Maybe it’s the difficult economic times we suddenly find ourselves in – but maybe we all need to look at what we’re doing to build our own sense of well-being, and that of our employees and direct reports.

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