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SAARLOUIS, Germany - The Occupational Health Department at Ford’s plant in Saarlouis, Germany, is going further in the treatment and prevention of mental health issues through an acute intervention scheme.
The medical team is supporting employees with mental health problems by arranging prompt specialist appointments and/or psychotherapy. Last year, this initiative was acknowledged with a President’s Health & Safety Award, Ford’s annual prize for innovative and successful workplace health schemes.
“The most important thing for us was to help employees with mental health issues obtain quick specialist support and treatment,” says Dr. Michaela Mittmann, Senior Medical Officer at Ford’s medical services department in Saarlouis. “The earlier we treat mental problems, the less likely they could become chronic.”
During an initial examination, the physicians in Saarlouis will evaluate whether other internal services need to be involved, for example if employees have mental health issues due to financial problems. For further medical assistance, the team can call on a newly established network of local specialists.
It means Ford Occupational Health Department can now arrange specialist appointments with one of its partners within just one week. Generally, patients have to wait several weeks or even months before they can see a psychotherapist or psychiatrist.
By acting quickly, mental health problems such as depression, anxiety disorders or posttraumatic stress disorders can be treated more effectively. Rapid intervention also helps reduce time lost through sick leave.
Occupational disabilities due to mental health issues are increasing which is why the medical team in Saarlouis also focusses on active prevention. Last autumn, it launched an anti-stress campaign which offered stress-reduction and relaxation workshops for employees.
To help address mental health issues resulting from exhaustion and stress, Ford’s medical department in Cologne launched a similar quick response programme last October and is currently planning stress- awareness events for 2014.