graham doerge new waters recovery

New Waters Recovery’s Graham Doerge explains why companies need to speak out on mental health issues

Who are you and what is your role at New Waters Recovery?

I am Graham Doerge. I am the CEO of New Waters Recovery.

What is your connection to rehab and sobriety?

I was dealing with my own issues, especially with alcohol. I decided to get sober and succeeded in doing so. I have been sober since 2008.

When I was in treatment, I realized that they had done a great job in helping me through this ordeal. They saved my life and I can’t thank them enough. It inspired me to give back and unbeknownst to me, it ended up being more than just a life-changing event.

I decided to do my part to help people get sober too. Making a career out of it was one of the best things I’ve ever done. Believe it or not, my wife Chloe is someone who has been through her own issues as well.

She herself has experienced substance abuse issues. Like me, she is recovering. We decided to start a recovery center so that people could have a second chance like us.

Without our recovery, we would never have started the recovery of the new waters. Nor would we have lived a blessed life with our three daughters.

As CEO, you are a business leader in a sense. What steps should companies take to make mental health a priority?

That’s an excellent question. Business leaders, whether they are CEOs or small business owners, need to understand the importance of mental health. I think it starts with knowing what the signs and symptoms of common mental disorders are that are out there.

For example, a person may not care about their appearance. They may have poor hygiene, they don’t look well put together as usual. If you associate this with a low mood and low productivity, you know something is wrong.

I think it’s essential that business leaders learn more about identifying the symptoms and signs of potential mental stress. This way they can educate their employees to spot it themselves. They want to make sure everyone is okay mentally.

If they notice something is wrong, they want to be able to raise their concerns without repercussions. They want someone to get the help they need fast before things get worse.

What would be the best way for companies to tackle the mental health issues of their employees?

I would say someone within the company is giving a presentation on mental health issues in the workplace. It can also be someone from a mental health organization who makes the presentation to business leaders and their employees.

They can talk about the kind of mental problems that exist and how they are treated. The presentation should also remind people that it’s okay to not be OK. Employers should also have strategies in which they can confidently speak to employees dealing with potential mental health issues.

I strongly recommend that employers connect with local mental health professionals. I believe it will be essential to have these people in your network. This way, if they or any of their employees need mental health services, they will have the contact details at their fingertips.

It will definitely make an employer more resourceful about how they can help their employees.

What do you think are the common signs of mental health issues in the workplace?

I think the biggest problem is someone repeatedly failing to show up. They may call in sick or not show up without a phone call first. They may be isolated to the point of not leaving their homes.

If they show up, they may be in a bad mood. They may be sad, irritable or have mood swings. Additionally, if their productivity is suffering along with the signs they are facing, this could be cause for concern.

Again, I think it’s critical that an employer identify at least the basic signs of mental illness. They don’t need to be masters to spot it. They should know just enough to say “OK, something is wrong”. Let’s see what happens.

Once they are able to identify what could be a potential mental health issue, they can refer their employee to a professional.

In your opinion, what should be done to prevent mental disorders?

Believe it or not, most mental health issues can start from work-related stress. For this reason, I encourage employers to consider taking the necessary steps. One such example is creating a work/life balance that will work for all employees.

The point is that you don’t want your employees to be overworked. This will lead to stress and exhaustion. Too much of this can lead to burnout which can eventually lead to mental disorders.

What makes this even better is that remote work can be an option. This assumes that a company has the necessary infrastructure. I also think it can reduce the stress of home-office commutes.

Think about it, by the time a person arrives at the office, they’re probably stressed. The same thing when they go home. If remote work is not out of reach, I think I encourage employers to consider this idea.

I also encourage business leaders to educate their employees and let them know that overworking is not recommended. I understand that there are business objectives that must be achieved. And there are also deadlines.

However, I think mental health should always be a priority. No need to work overtime if you don’t want to. You can go home, spend time with your family, and come back tomorrow and pick up where you left off.

Thank you very much for your time, Graham

My pleasure. Thanks a lot.

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