Going Beyond Mental Health Week

This week begins Mental Health Week in Canada with the Canadian Mental Health Association’s 2019 campaign’s core message being: “Get loud about what mental health really is.”

According to the Association, one-in-five Canadians have mental health issues. The Mental Health Commission of Canada says 500,000 Canadians in any given week are unable to work due to mental health problems or illnesses, which means if people spend most of their time at work, employers have a real issue that needs contending with. Of course it is an all-year round problem but gets more attention this time of year (in the U.S. May is Mental Health Month).

Perhaps you weren’t aware that Canada has a Mental Health Commission and that there is a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. These voluntary guidelines are the first of their kind in the world and provide tools and resources to help employers in promoting mental health and preventing psychological harm at work.

There are, of course, two very good reasons for ensuring your company understands the needs and challenges of employees. The first, and most important, has to do with the wellbeing of the employees themselves. Caring, compassion and creating a positive environment is simply the right kind of workplace we should all be striving for. The second reason has to do with the bottom line. Not only is caring for your employees the right thing to do, it makes good business sense.

The Mental Health Commission’s National Standard guidelines say that improving workplace psychological health and safety can:

  • assist with risk mitigation;
  • help with cost effectiveness;
  • improve recruitment and retention; and
  • create organizational excellence and sustainability

Any or all of these effects helps retain talent, improve employee engagement, enhance productivity, and encourage creativity, which all help feed the bottom line.

Whether voluntary or not, you can use Mental Health Week to reflect on your policies and “get loud.” Ask tough questions, be introspective and go beyond this week to make mental health part of overall employee health. It will make a difference.

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