Health and wellbeing have always been an immense passion for Belinda Carreira, and after years of dreaming of owning a business in this field, it finally became a reality two and a half years ago when she launched WELL. Her work with WELL revolves around the promoting and improving employee health and wellbeing − fully supporting the achievement of SDG 3.
Belinda Carreira, founder and managing director of Well, is obsessed with employee health and wellbeing because she has experienced first-hand how powerful good health is to one’s success. What she enjoys most about her current role is the way she is able to innovate, create and make an impact for good in a field that she is passionate about.
Although she is an avid supporter of the SDG goals, she candidly shares that before attending the #FinBiz2030 launch in February, she had no real knowledge of all the SDGs. She was shocked and educated by what the speakers shared on climate change, reducing inequality, creating decent work opportunities, and providing quality education.
‘Without good health, it is impossible to function at our full potential. To me, good health and wellbeing is vital for effectively achieving all the other SDGs. The objective of this SDG is to “ensure healthy lives and promote wellbeing for all at all ages”. Our physical health and mental wellbeing determine the quality of life we are able to live and influences the health and mental wellbeing of those we come into contact with each day,’ states Belinda.
With South Africa falling in the bottom four countries for providing mental health treatment, Belinda believes that in order to address all these shortage issues we need to start placing greater emphasis on preventive measures by placing greater emphasis on looking after the wellbeing of our population.
‘Our Bill of Rights guarantees the right to equitable health care for all South Africans as well as the progressive realisation of improvements in access to and quality of care. We have a shortage of medical staff and hospital beds, which has become even more of a problem now with COVID-19. Not only are there not enough beds to treat physical illnesses, but the shortage of beds for patients with mental illnesses has increased. The Financial Mail in their 28 November 2019 workplace health article titled “The high cost of mental illness” states that the majority of those suffering from mental health issues are dependent on the public health sector, which has just 18 beds available for every 100 000 people,’ says Belinda.
‘I believe that increasing physical activity in the daily lives of all South Africans is a powerful preventive course of action we can take. I have experienced the profoundly positive impact it has had on my own health and wellbeing. Physical activity is a simple and cost-effective intervention. It significantly decreases anxiety, stress and depression. It also boosts both memory and productivity. There’s a lot of room for innovation in SDG 3 and I’m passionate about innovation and making an impact for good,’ she says.
Belinda is also a member of SAICA’s Health and Wellbeing Advisory Group (HWAG), which supports achieving SDG 3 through working on integrating health metrics into traditional reporting.
‘The work that this group is doing is extremely important because we can only make informed decisions about how to improve employee health and wellbeing if we comprehensively measure and report on it. All organisations need to formally track what they are doing and consistently evaluate their outcomes if we are to significantly improve employee health and wellbeing. And if we are able to significantly improve employee health and wellbeing, this will have a positive knock-on impact on the employees’ communities, assisting in reducing their physical and mental illnesses. This will indirectly help to resolve health care resource shortages while reducing South Africa’s massive health care cost burden.
As a CA(SA) I am passionate about reporting and accountability − it will always form a fundamental part of the work I do because it is the crux of good decision-making,’ explains Belinda.
She firmly believes that if more people are made aware of what the SDGs are, how important it is that we each play a part in helping achieve them and how we can do this, we can transform our country beyond our expectations.
Belinda met a colleague, Damian Judge, CFO of Trellidor, at the #FinBiz2030 launch they and have already set up a project called #SustainableSA, which will be launching in September this year. The project revolves around a 24-month awareness campaign utilising social media, podcasts, webinars, videos, interviews and articles to inform and educate people about the SDGs and how they can get involved in helping to achieve them. The work the #FinBiz2030 task teams are doing supports this project by providing it with their information and expertise.
Belinda admits that as a woman in the workplace she has had to overcome many challenges. Often, being a minority made her feel she had no voice or credibility and she found it difficult to stand up for herself or put herself forward. At times, she felt like a people pleaser, which left her feeling oppressed and frustrated without really understanding what it was she was feeling.
‘I definitely experienced a crisis of confidence. I spoke to therapists and slowly started opening up with others about how I was feeling. It was not easy at first, but gradually I started feeling better. I also did a lot of research. I began to find out that most people I know have gone through a crisis of confidence at some point in their lives. I took time to work on myself. I learnt how to deal with my insecurities by being authentic. It was hard at first, but I learnt how to say what I wanted, to stand up for myself and set healthy boundaries for my life. As a result, my whole life has changed; it has really transformed for the better,’ she says.
Her favourite story is the motivational story of the eagle. ‘Although it’s not a true story it’s my favourite story of transformation!’