Mental Health in the Workplace

Apr 28, 2014

The data on the impact of mental illness on society is undeniable and permeates all facets of our lives. The statistics are sobering – that mental health disease afflicts one in five Canadians today. Consider these further findings from the Mental Health Commission of Canada:

  • $51 billion annually lost to Canadian economy as a result of mental health issues
  • over 500,000 Canadians each week do not go to work due to mental illness
  • three in ten disability claims and over 70% of disability costs are linked to mental illness

There is good reason to tackle this issue, particularly from a business standpoint as it connects with four key metrics – enhanced cost effectiveness (financial performance), improved risk management, maximizing employee recruitment and retention strategies and fulfillment of corporate social responsibility mandates.

Whether employers are just starting to address mental health issues in the workplace or looking for additional resources or tools to elevate their approach to mental health, The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) has something for all organizations.

The Standard was launched in January 2013 as the first national standard for psychological health in the world. Its purpose is to outline the requirements for a documented and systematic approach in the development of a sustainable psychologically healthy and safe workplace. These include the following:

  • identification and elimination of hazards that pose a risk of psychological harm
  • assessment and control of the risks that cannot be eliminated
  • structures or practices that promote psychological health and safety
  • adoption of a culture that promotes psychological health and safety

The Standard is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools, resources and was developed for everyone regardless of whether or not they individually live with a mental illness. Although there is no legal obligation for employers to utilize it in their organization, many have chosen to do so since no other approach has been downloaded more frequently in its first year. Visit www.mentalhealthcommission.ca to download a copy.

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