Chatting with Dr. Karrian Hepburn Malcolm about Mental Health

Career Shift

Caribbean Wellness chats with Dr. Karrian Hepburn Malcolm who made a career shift from banking and finance to becoming the Managing Director of Guardian Media Limited (GML).
Her entry to Trinidad was in 2011 as General Manager of Scotia Investments Trinidad and Tobago Ltd with oversight of the Private Client Group operations.

Navigating Mental Stress

She was very intentional in this move to the media as she knew that it is naturally a stress-inducing environment. Karrian’s first 6 months as General Manager of GML was stressful. However, she was able to successfully navigate those mental stresses and has adapted to the different norms and expectations of the industry. She recognizes that it is a work in progress and continues her commitment to leading a new direction for GML.
This new role meant a disruption in her entire life including her sleeping patterns and being a “Mommy” with her son asking why is she coming home late every day.

Destigmatizing Mental Health

Karrian has also had to lead the adjustment of changing working patterns brought on by COVID. She comments that employers are critical stakeholders in ensuring the overall wellness of their employees. Employers can help destigmatize mental health by providing mental wellness opportunities for employees. Some companies have arranged employee assistance programmes as a free benefit. Just this availability might encourage persons to begin to see mental health in the same way as they see physical health. The end goal is for employees to not feel constrained if they need to speak to a psychologist or a counselor about a wellness concern.

Mentally well employees contribute to profitability

Employers need to remember that employee wellness contributes positively to productivity and hence profitability so they should invest in their employees physically, mentally, and psychologically.
Mental health is still highly stigmatized, and people often think that persons who are in counseling are different and not to be trusted because they are “crazy”. While our societies have come a long way towards accepting mental health issues, a lot more needs to be done to help people accept their issues and work towards normalizing their mental health.
According to Karrian, it is extremely progressive that across the region, we are beginning to have more open discussions about feelings of being overwhelmed or stressed.

You Can’t Give from an Empty Cup

She maintains her own wellness by remembering the advice of one of her mentors that you cannot give from an empty cup. Often, we are so frustrated that any attempt to support others in need will have a negative result. So Karrian invests a lot of time ensuring that she leads a well-balanced life, mentally, emotionally, and psychologically. She reminds us that we are all human and our human experience includes feeling stressed, tired, and frustrated so it is important to kind to ourselves and to understand our personal limitations. A big factor in ensuring that our cup is full after we have listened to our own needs, listen carefully to the concerns and comments of others. She has learned and accepted that we all need to focus on mental wellness and stop stigmatizing persons with mental health issues.
Her advice is twofold – maintain your own space of well-being while keeping in tune with those around you whether it be your loved ones or colleagues or other random individuals who may just need a positive word
Her daily mantra continues to be: “I have to absolutely pour from a full cup so I must afford, the time to replenish mentally and emotionally, and psychologically.”

We recall Dr. Brock Chisholm, the first Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), who famously stated: “without mental health, there can be no true physical health”.

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