Malta
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S.A.F.E. Prevention Programme at Aġenzija Sedqa

Mental health plays a significant role in one’s well-being and directly impacts an individual’s productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction at the workplace. The S.A.F.E. (Skills for Addictions Free Employees) programme is led by Aġenzija Sedqa, which is a National agency, under the Foundation for Social Welfare Services (FSWS). Aġenzija Sedqa has been making significant strides in delaying the onset and preventing the use of substance use, treating and caring for individuals with addictions, while promoting mental well-being. Since the S.A.F.E. inception in 1996, this programme has developed an innovative approach and dedicated team.

Companies that take part in the programme are invited to an awards ceremony, that takes place every two years, with this year’s happening in September 2023. A certificate and token of appreciation is given to the companies that invest in their employees well-being.

Tracey CiliaTracey Cilia

The S.A.F.E. prevention programme has received widespread recognition for its outstanding efforts in the field of drug prevention and mental health promotion. This year, the programme was honoured with the prestigious National Supporting Businesses Award from the Ministry for the Economy for its innovative approach in supporting companies. Furthermore, the Prevention Team was  honoured from the Ministry for Social Policy and Children’s Rights, by receiving the Team of the Year Award.

However this goes beyond the Maltese Islands. In fact, the S.A.F.E. programme has been commended by European bodies such as the European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction (EMCDDA) for its comprehensive strategies and successful outcomes. These awards and recognitions reinforce the programme’s credibility and effectiveness, further inspiring its commitment to creating a healthier society.

The S.A.F.E. prevention programme offers employers and employees numerous benefits

The S.A.F.E. prevention programme offers employers and employees numerous benefits, that contribute to a healthy and more productive work environment. Moreover, the constant demands from one’s personal and work challenges, may place increasing pressure on one’s stress levels. It is for this reason that the sessions provided by this programme provide skills, for the employee and employer alike, to feel confident in handling any situation that may arise through healthy channels. Research indicates that these skills may also provide a protective factor against substance abuse. Through the programme,  employers gain the skills to identify the signs of substance abuse or gambling in their employees. Furthermore, by implementing this programme, employers may notice a decrease in absenteeism and a general well-being in their workforce. 

One of the additional benefits of the S.A.F.E. programme is to introduce or review a company’s Substance Abuse and Gambling Policy. This policy provides a functional referral system to Aġenzija Sedqa’s care and treatment services for employees who might be experiencing difficulties related to addictions. This policy further supports in decreasing the effects that substance abuse may be having on the place of work. Reaching 6,000 employers and employees within the last two years, this programme has garnered numerous awards and achievements. Its vision and strategy at the place of work focus on the provision of life-skills that support in deterring addictions, further ensuring a healthy workplace. From the 44 companies that have implemented the programme in 2022, nine companies introduced the policy in order to better support employees that may be experiencing an addiction related difficulties. This policy  to takes a restorative approach rather than a punitive one, further ensuring job retention.

The well-being project has been recently launched for the period of July and September 2023. In this project, interactive sessions related to stress management, work-life balance and bullying at the workplace will be explored. Ultimately, this project aims to raise awareness and to empower the employee to take control of one’s own personal well-being. Such programmes aims to enhance resiliency, while taking into consideration the personal aspects of the employees and the workplace in general. This project’s core value aims to ensure job retention, job satisfaction, and the employee’s engagement in various workplaces.

This year S.A.F.E. will be reaching another milestone, celebrating 27 years since its humble beginnings. It has come a long way and through its remarkable achievements, this programme has proven to be a crucial resource for employers and employees in order to continue to cultivate a healthier and addiction-free society. Each one of us is responsible to make this vision a reality.

Tracey Cilia is a prevention professional.