Nov 15, 2017

I wrote my book on workplace bullying and harassment because of the following reasons:

    • Bullying and harassment in one form or another exists at numerous places of employment in our country
    • Some people are able to accept the situation and move on anyway, but there are many who are not able to do so, and it is not their fault.
    • Many are facing day-to-day oppressive atmosphere in their workplaces but do not feel empowered to do anything about it.
    • For many individuals around the country personal life is being affected significantly because of a very negative work situation, causing anxiety, depression and other associated mental health disorders
    • There are many who are facing one or more different forms of discrimination, but do not feel comfortable in standing up against it
    • There are employees around the country who are facing undeserved consequences for doing the right thing at work, but are feeling helpless in fighting back
    • Dedicated workers not willing to report unjust activities at work (whistle blowing) because of fear of negative consequences
    • Many individuals are having to deal with wrongful termination

Nov 08. 2017

Whenever I speak at a conference of school counselors or school social workers about prevention of child sexual abuse, I try to make the point that they can have a significant role in prevention of child sexual abuse because:

    • Most children often do not like to discuss concerns and/or incidents of abuse because they don’t believe that they will be taken seriously
    • Most abusers are typically members or close friends of the family, and therefore, children do not feel safe discussing this at home or with a family member
    • School Counselors or School Social Workers can be in regular contact with children, and are often viewed by children as trusted adults outside the home/family
    • All school counselors and social workers are generally mandated reporters – and therefore, concerns and/or incidents of abuse will typically reach the appropriate authorities
    • School Counselors and Social Workers are professionally trained individuals who are able to discuss topics of this nature appropriately with children or are able to refer them to appropriate professionals
    • Many of our systems are more likely to respond to a concern brought in by a school counselor or a school social worker rather than an ordinary citizen

Nov 02, 2017

I am looking forward to three important presentations during the month of November 2017. All of these presentations will be based on my first book titled “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder”.

The first presentation is scheduled on Friday Nov 3 at the MN HOSA (Health Occupations Students of America) Fall Conference in Minneapolis, MN.

Here is an excerpt from MN HOSA’s website:

“Health Occupations Students of America is a National Career and Technical Student Organization (CTSO) endorsed by the Department of Education and the Health Occupations Education Division of the Association of Career and Technical Education. HOSA’s mission is to enhance the delivery of compassionate, quality health care by providing opportunities for knowledge, skills, and leadership development of all health occupations education students, therefore helping the student to meet the needs of the health care community”.

My presentation at this conference will be on the topic of “PTSD and OCD from bullying”

My second presentation is scheduled on Friday Nov 10 at the annual conference of FMFWV (Family Medicine Foundation of West Virginia) in Huntington, WV. The topic of my presentation will be “Impact of bullying on mental health – primary care concerns”.

My third presentation will be on Friday Nov 17 at Binghamton University in Binghamton, NY, organized by the Indian International Student Union. My topic there will be “Long term psychological impact of bias-based bullying”

Oct 26, 2017

When I make presentations about workplace bullying, I typically make the following comments as my final thoughts:

  • The purpose of my presentation is not to tell anyone what to do or what not to do
  • Employees have options:
    • Tolerate mistreatment and move on
    • Quit the job and find another
    • Take some action
  • I cannot tolerate bullying and harassment and I truly liked my job – so I took action
  • When I post on my Facebook page on this topic, I typically receive a lot of comments, which do indicate that this is quite a relevant topic
  • Most comments are supportive – it is clear to me that many individuals around the country have suffered and are suffering from this issue
  • But there also some negative comments
  • The negative comments typically fall into these categories:
    • An employee is weak if he/she complains
    • If you can’t handle it, quit your job
    • Take illegal measures such as physical violence
  • Of course, I do not support any of these views
  • They don’t understand that at times it takes a lot of courage to stand up for your rights

Oct 19, 2017

I recently posted the following comment on my facebook page:

“I try to emphasize the message that if you see anything that could possibly lead to abuse, try to do something about it. Even if it eventually turns out to be a false alarm, it is worth it to check things out to be sure. It is okay to have a few false alarms when it comes to protecting our children”.

I received a lot of interesting comments. Many people agreed with the idea that it is important to keep an eye on the folks the children are associating with to watch for any red flags. If you see any red flags, then look into the situation further to make sure the children are not at risk.

However, there were several people who thought “keeping an eye” meant putting someone in prison for no reasons. Watching for red flags does not mean you are putting someone in prison. Watching out for red flags simply means watching out for situations that could be risky for children. If you do believe that the children might be at risk, then one of the first things to do will be a background check of the person you are concerned about. By doing some research you can often find out a lot of things that will tell you how concerned you should be. In my story in the book “Father Figure – my mission to prevent child sexual abuse”, I had concerns about the person my single mother friend was dating and once I did a background check and some more research, I found out a lot of concerning things about that person. I was not able to get the Child Protective Services and Law Enforcement to take any action – but I was able to get other family members involved who were able to take appropriate actions to keep the children safe. Nobody was sent to prison or anything like that – just some appropriate protection orders were put in place to keep the children safe.

Oct 12, 2017

I am looking forward to my presentation today at the 50th Midwest School Social Work conference in Cleveland, Ohio. I will be speaking on the following topic “A Life Interrupted – Bullying and OCD”.

Here is the announcement from their website:

“The Ohio School Social Work Association (OSSWA) and the Midwest School Social Work Council are excited to bring the 50th Annual Midwest School Social Work Conference: “From Punishment to Progress: Breaking barriers to academic and behavioral success” to Cleveland, Ohio!”

I am excited to have another opportunity to speak to school social workers on this topic. Bullying continues to be a key issue for many schools across the country. And I have learnt through my presentations around the country that mental health issues are also quite prevalent among school children. School social workers have a key role in working with parents to help many children receive appropriate treatment at an early age so they are able to tackle their difficult issues. I am therefore looking forward to another interesting presentation and discussions.

Oct 05, 2017

When I speak to a group of employees about responding to bullying and harassment in the workplace, I try to make sure they are aware of the following guidelines:

  • Read your employee handbook thoroughly
  • Talk to HR about processes and procedures – about issues such as performance evaluation, harassment reporting, etc
  • Thorough review and understanding of union’s rules, regulations and processes
  • Learn about your state’s process for evaluating human rights violations
  • Be mindful of what topics should be discussed at the workplace
  • Follow union and HR processes if there is harassment
  • Document everything about incidents, witnesses, HR response, etc. Keep in mind that most eyewitnesses will not come forward
  • Do not tell anyone if you are considering taking legal action
  • Be careful of emails, text messages, etc sent in connection with the situation
  • Be prepared for a long battle – everything seems to take a lot of time

Sep 28, 2017

Recently I had put in the following post on my facebook page:

In my presentations about prevention of child sexual abuse I try to make the point that all ordinary citizens should keep their eyes and ears open to make sure they do not miss an opportunity to protect one or more vulnerable children from possible sexual abuse. In my story I was an ordinary citizen and I am proud to say that I was able to make a difference in the lives of a couple of young girls”.

I was very pleasantly surprised with the number of positive responses and comments I had received on this posting. Generally when I speak to people about this, I often receive discouraging comments – the typical response has to do with the fact that many people believe that their efforts will not amount to much because our systems do not seem to place priority on prevention. I do understand this line of thinking, but I continue to promote the message that any amount of effort is worth it when it comes to preventing sexual abuse of children.

That is why it was really encouraging to see a number of positive and supportive messages on my facebook page in response to my posting. It seems that there are many around the country who do try their best to keep an eye on children around them to make sure they are not at risk of abuse.

Sep 21, 2017

Here is an excerpt from my book “A Life Interrupted – the story of my battle with bullying and obsessive compulsive disorder” regarding some of my thoughts about my residential treatment at the Rogers Memorial Hospital:

 

“While the staff at Rogers is very educated, helpful, supportive, and encouraging, do not rely on their efforts alone to “program” you. In spite of how talented they are, the staff cannot do the job for you or make your program succeed. Ultimately, your success in the program at Rogers will involve you finally having to face your toughest fears and embrace the same old awful discomfort you have put so much of your time and energy into avoiding at all costs. In my case, I went to Rogers fully believing that I would be taught some great, almost magical method which I could use to defeat my illness, and that I would be pampered by the staff after all of my difficult years. In reality, you will continue to use the same skills you learn at Rogers on your own in your personal home environment long after you’ve been discharged. Do not rely on staff to coddle, protect, or enable you to continue to avoid facing your fears as other people in your life may have done in the past. There is no magical secret to the program or any easier, shortcut method to defeat OCD besides facing those same old ugly fears you’ve avoided now for ages. However, Rogers will provide you the unique opportunity to do so by following their proven approach, which will likely be a new experience for you. Do not feel intimidated or overwhelmed by this prospect when entering Rogers, but also remind yourself that this will require hard work on your behalf and a willingness to step outside of your usual comfort zone and face anxiety.

Cooperating with the resident psychiatrist and being open to possible changes in your medication regimen can provide immeasurable assistance in your battle with OCD. No one at Rogers can or will force you to do something you are not comfortable with. However, you must also remain willing to step outside of your usual comfort zone and at least try something different as recommended by the resident psychiatrist during your stay”.

 

Sep 14, 2017

I believe that all employers should try their best to make sure there is on bullying or harassment in their workplace. In my presentations I emphasize the following points that are critical for employers to keep in mind:

  • Understand that it is important to maintain a positive and rewarding work environment for all employees
  • Otherwise it can create significant negative outcomes including possible lawsuits
  • Successful companies know that happy employees mean better results
  • Promote a positive environment by proactively sending out the message that bullying and harassment are not tolerated
  • Maintain appropriate processes and procedures for handling and investigating complaints and/or grievances from employees
  • Maintain appropriate performance management processes including evaluation and development
  • Follow through on complaints including feedback to the employees
  • Absolutely no retaliation against employees for reporting issues
© 2017 - Sumi Mukherjee
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