I am an Organization

The Steps

There are steps that all organizations can take to help create a mentally healthy and safe work environment, decrease illness and injury, and be fiscally responsible. A comprehensive mental health plan can assist in organizing and addressing these ideas. This section of the Mental Health Toolkit is designed for senior leadership and organizational representatives who want to make a positive change through modern policies and programs.

CSMLS considers the mental health and psychological safety of its employees and members to be as important as other aspects of health and safety. CSMLS is committed to supporting a mentally healthy workplace through appropriate policies, programs, and services.

Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism (The Mental Health Commission)
On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness. (The Mental Health Commission)
Did you know? You can download an interactive document to determine stress management competencies. View here.

According to the World Health Organization, there are 5 key barriers for organizations to overcome in order to increase the accessibility of mental health services.

  1. Absence of mental health from the public health agenda and the implications for funding
  2. Current organization of mental health services
  3. Lack of integration within primary care
  4. Inadequate human resources for mental health
  5. Lack of public mental health leadership

How does your organization combat these barriers to make a better work environment? Firstly, as an organization, you represent the managers and employees. We suggest that you review these sections of the Mental Health Toolkit to get a better understanding of what the members of your organization may be experiencing. Secondly, the links below will provide tools and frameworks for your organization to implement.

As an exercise to determine whether your management and organization is providing a mentally healthy and safe environment, download this list of questions: Management Standards for Tackling Work Related Stress. Alternatively, you can review these 20 questions:

  1. Is employee psychological health and safety a stated priority in our organizational policy statement?
  2. Do people in our organization have a common understanding of a psychologically safe workplace?
  3. Is our management team familiar with the legal and regulatory requirements and expectations related to workplace mental health and psychological safety?
  4. What is the cost of stress-related illnesses – both physical and mental – to our organization?
  5. Is there a system in place to measure the rates of both absenteeism and presenteeism (being unproductive while present at work) in our organization and what percentage of these may be related to psychological health and safety issues?
  6. What percentage of your disability claims do you believe are related in whole or in part to mental health issues or workplace conflict issues?
  7. Do our policies align with occupational health and safety, labour law, tort law, contract law, and employment standards with respect to psychological health and safety?
  8. Is there a process in place to encourage frontline managers to provide a psychologically safe workplace through such measures as performance indicators and evaluation methods?
  9. Are those whose position includes managing, supervising, or supporting employees, adequately trained, skilled or competent to make sound decisions?
  10. Do the leaders and management in our organization recognize and respond to conflict in a timely and effective manner?
  11. Are the leaders and management in our organization trained to identify the difference between a mental health problem and a performance issue?
  12. Does our organization have a policy on work-life balance?
  13. Does our organization work to prevent physical, relational or emotional harassment, bullying or aggression?
  14. Does our organization help prevent discrimination by providing all employees with a basic level of knowledge about mental health issues?
  15. Do we have crisis response policies and processes in place for issues such as suicide, violence, threats of violence, or emotional breakdowns at work?
  16. Does our organization have a process allowing for open communications between managers, supervisors, and employees that assist us to address the needs of co-workers who are traumatized by personal or workplace issues?
  17. Do we have a return to work policy that takes into account the emotional, psychological, and interpersonal challenges and allows union/employee representatives a role to play in the return to work process including having the opportunity to provide input on the return to work process?
  18. Do we know how to reasonably accommodate those with a mental health disability at work?
  19. What resources in our organization and/or community exist for employees struggling with mental health issues?
  20. Is our organization exposed to complaints concerning the duty to reasonably accommodate persons with mental disabilities, which may include mood or anxiety-related disorders?

Mental Health Framework for an Organization

Living in an economics society full of fiscal restraints, mental health issues can be viewed as a business expenditure and financial burden. An organization however, should never lose sight that the numbers and figures they see represent the lives of those who contribute to patient care every day, have family and friends, and experience the world through as they do. As mental health issues can provide significant challenges in the workplace, an organization should create a framework to help foster support for their employees. The following links are excellent resources to accomplish this:

Leadership Framework for Advancing Workplace Mental Health
Top leaders of successful organizations need quality information to make effective business decisions. This website will quickly take you through the business case for creating a mentally healthy workplace. Included in this website are tools and information for you to pass on to others in your organization so they can implement your strategies. Please take a few moments to watch these videos to hear what other Canadian leaders have to say about advancing workplace mental health. We hope you’ll then tailor your own approach and join us to create mentally healthy Canadian workplaces.

View videos

Guarding Minds @ Work
Developed by the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction at Simon Fraser University, Guarding Minds @ Work (GM@W) is a comprehensive set of resources designed to protect and promote mental health and safety in the workplace. According to the website, the resources provides the tools necessary to address 13 psychosocial factors known to have a powerful impact on organizational health, the health of individual employees, and the financial bottom line. It was constructed using extensive research, including data analysis at the national level and review of national and international best practices, as well as existing and emerging Canadian case law and legislation.

View resources

Build a Case for Change

It has been suggested that “providing a psychologically safe workplace is no longer something that is simply nice to do, it is increasingly becoming a legal imperative. Changes in labour law, occupational health and safety, employment standards, workers’ compensation, the contract of employment, tort law, and human rights decisions are all pointing to the need for employers to provide a psychologically safe workplace. In addition, human rights require a duty to accommodate mental disabilities.” Here are some resources to help guide your organization build a strong case for change:

Other Toolkits and Resources

Employee Assistance Programs

Workplace wellness programs are “workplace-based programs that incorporate health promotion and disease prevention activities with the goal of improving the health of employees.” There is a debate in the peer-reviewed literature as to whether or not these programs should be implemented; however, this is in part due to the lack of reporting consistency and differences between program descriptions.  Many studies have shown local benefits for employees and employers as demonstrated in systemic reviews. This table shows some of the benefits the research has identified today, as per the review completed by Hind & Rouse (2014).

In Canada, employers generally implement Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) which are voluntary, work-based programs that offer free and confidential assessments, short-term counselling, referrals, and follow-up services to employees who have personal and/or work-related problems. The concept of the EAP originated in the 1970s in an effort to reduce substance abuse and intoxication in the workplace but since this time, it has expanded the service purview immensely. EAPs are generally structured to support work-related difficulties, but they can also provide help for a broad and complex body of issues affecting mental and emotional well-being in the workplace, such as stress, grief, family problems and psychological disorders.  To support the organizational structure, EAP counselors may work in a consultative role with managers and supervisors to address challenges that are specific or systemic, and acute or chronic in nature.

For more information on how to build a comprehensive workplace health promotion model, identify an EAP service for your organization and learn what questions you should be asking, see these links for relevant information: