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News
AmCham Serbia and Hemofarm Foundation on the Importance of Preserving Mental Health
19. May 2021.
A panel discussion on the importance of mental health, experiences of employers, as well as the ways in which employers can provide support to their employees in this sphere has been held in the organization of AmCham HR Forum in cooperation with Hemofarm Foundation.

Best practices and activities and programmes in the domain of metal health during pandemic were presented by Suzana Đorđević, Director of Hemofarm Foundation; Tatjana Jovanović, Senior Director of Human Resources at Hemofarm; Ivana Vukić, Head of Internal Communications, Culture and Engagement at PepsiCo; Sonja Jovanović, Head of HR Department at Ernst&Young; Jovana Ivanović, HR Manager at Coca-Cola HBC, and Dragomir Kojić, Senior Director at Karanović & Partners. Ivana Karanović, Vice Chairperson of AmCham HR Forum was a moderator during the panel discussion.

On behalf of Hemofarm Foundation, Suzana Đorđević presented ‘Unbreakable’ campaign for psycho-social support to the population focusing on the fight against depression and rising stigma that accompanies the affected persons. The campaign was launched as a kind of support to the state and society in fighting the silent mental epidemic that is taking place in parallel with the Covid-19 pandemic that changed the way of life as we knew it by March 2020 and introduced physical and social distance as measures to protect public health. In Serbia, as everywhere else in the world, there is an alarming level of anxiety and depression caused by concerns for health, economic and social security. The campaign ‘Unbreakable’ represents a network of help and support to the population provided through the SOS hotline 0800 001 002, which is responded to by the experts of the Special hospitals for psychiatric diseases in Vršac, Gornja Toponica, Kovin and Novi Kneževac. The help and support are available 24/7 via SOS hotline, as well as via e-mail address podrska@nesalomivi.rs. As Suzana Đorđević has emphasized, this campaign is the best example showing that it is possible to find a minimum of joint interests and unify different people and organizations in the effort to find solutions together and actively involve in the movement for the benefit of us all. This not only raises the level of awareness of the problem, but at the same time raises the level of solidarity and humanity, which makes society better and puts good individuals in the forefront as an example to others.

When it comes to helping and supporting employees to adequately deal with presently topical problems, Tatjana Jovanović spoke on behalf of Hemofarm about the initiative ‘Together we can do it all’ that Hemofarm launched in 2020 and which is still relevant today. A large number of employees in Serbia and globally are functioning under great pressure. That is why it is important, as Tatjana Jovanović said, that companies play a major role in supporting employees. Mental health care is extremely important because the pandemic has changed business and private lives, and that is why the initiative ‘Together we can do it all’ sends out the message – ‘You are not alone’.

Ivana Vukić from the company PepsiCo talked about the corporate practices in the field of preserving mental health. Ivana emphasized the important role of HR which has a task, especially in crisis situations, to be a safe zone for all employees. PepsiCo organized a program of psychological support to employees, which includes organizing a contact line where employees could schedule individual sessions with psychotherapists, as well as organizing webinars.

On behalf of the company Ernst&Young, Sonja Jovanović addressed the attendees and pointed out the importance of the support of a company’s management to the initiatives focusing on the care for employees. Ernst&Young has been working on mental hygiene for several years, but the pandemic has intensified these activities. The company has developed a site which employees can access as individuals and as team leaders. Each initiative aims to enable employees to be better for themselves, as well as for the environment in which they are.

Jovana Ivanović from Coca-Cola HBC singled out the global anonymous support program ‘Employee assistance program’, designed as a support available 24 hours 7 days a week. This support represents various types of help and support related to physical health, psychological condition, addiction disease. Other Coca-Cola HBC initiatives and workshops were related to raising awareness about mental health and achieving emotional maturity. One of the initiatives is ‘New me for a new tomorrow’ which includes advising employees, involving the employees who have decided to share their experiences and the fight to preserve mental hygiene.

Dragomir Kojić spoke on behalf of Karanović & Partners, pointing out the problems that employees faced even before the pandemic, such as stress, perfectionism and burnout. The pandemic intensified the stressful aspects of work and prevented the positive effects of working from the office, starting with social closeness with colleagues and the like. However, the positive effects of the pandemic crisis and its impact should not be left out, although we often don’t focus on them. ‘The pandemic has enabled us to reset the business mind’, Kojić pointed out.

At the end of the event, all participants had the opportunity to answer the questions about the most significant identified challenges in the field of mental health in the companies in which they work, as well as the most important topics to be dealt with at the next sessions of the AmCham HR Forum.