In today’s fast-paced and often high-pressure environment, mental health in the workplace is more critical than ever. As organizations across Canada recognize the significant impact that mental well-being has on productivity and employee satisfaction and retention, the conversation around mental health is gaining vital attention. Not only is addressing mental health the right thing to do; it’s also critical to meeting compliance with occupational health and safety legislation.

Psychological Safety: Employer Roles and Responsibilities

In Canada, legislation concerning workplace mental health is evolving to reflect the growing understanding of its importance. Employers are required to ensure not just the physical safety of their employees but their psychological safety as well. This includes implementing policies that protect employees from psychological harm and workplace stressors, including workplace violence and harassment.

Provinces like Ontario and Alberta have already incorporated specific clauses in their Occupational Health and Safety Acts, emphasizing an employer’s duty to prevent mental harm alongside physical injuries.

Workplace Mental Health Stats in Canada

The statistics are telling: according to a recent study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, in any given year, one in five Canadians experiences a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the economy well in excess of $50 billion annually. More specifically, the lost productivity resulting from workers’ mental health issues accounts for roughly 70% of that total cost. Clearly, mental health is not just a personal issue but a significant economic one that needs comprehensive strategies for mitigation and support.

6 Workplace Strategies for Mental Health and Safety

Implementing effective mental health strategies in the workplace can significantly reduce costs, enhance productivity, and improve employee retention. Here are six strategies employers can adopt:

Promote Open Communication: Create a safe environment where employees feel comfortable discussing their mental health without fear of judgment or repercussions. Regular check-ins and supportive communication channels can facilitate this.

Provide Workplace Mental Health Training: When you understand the impact of workplace stressors on mental health, you become empowered with strategies to support yourself and others. SafetyVantage offers a range of psychological health and   courses designed to equip individuals and employers with the knowledge and skills necessary to identify, support, and promote mental health in the workplace.

Popular Psychological Health and Safety Training Courses:

Offer Mental Health Resources: Provide access to mental health resources, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs). EAPs are designed to provide confidential support to employees facing personal or work-related problems that might impact their job performance, health, and well-being. These programs typically offer services like counseling, referrals, and resources to help employees manage and overcome challenges effectively.

Implement Flexible Work Policies: Flexible hours, the option to work from home, and understanding personal time off can help employees manage their mental health better. Work-life balance is crucial and directly impacts mental well-being.

Encourage Regular Breaks and Physical Activity: Encourage employees to take regular breaks to clear their mind and avoid burnout. Promoting physical activity, whether through company sports teams or subsidized gym memberships, can also improve mental health.

Build a Supportive Workplace Culture: Foster an inclusive and supportive workplace culture that prioritizes mental health. This involves regular training, activities focused on mental health, and ensuring that senior leadership champions mental health initiatives.

Employers who invest in mental health and safety are likely to see not only happier, more engaged employees but also enjoy increased productivity and profitability. As mental health in the workplace continues to be a significant aspect of overall health, it’s clear that proactive measures are not just beneficial but necessary for a thriving workplace.