HR "hot topic" Blog


Mental Health: Making a Difference in Your Workplace

Mental health affects us all. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness (Canadian Mental Health Association, 2013). According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental health issues accounted for more than $6 billion in lost productivity (i.e. absenteeism,presenteeism and turnover) in 2011. While tackling such a widespread illness may seem difficult, employers can have a powerful impact on changing attitudes within the workplace. Educating managers on the importance of supporting, empathizing and understanding employees’ everyday struggles will assist in creating a more open and supportive workplace environment.

Although mental health conversations are more prevalent nowadays, there is still a stigma around these illnesses in the workplace. As an employer, you play a critical role in increasing awareness and de-stigmatizing the workplace. There are many different ways that you can create a more mentally healthy environment;starting with implementing an accommodation policy and then effectively communicating the policy to your employees. A well written accommodation policy,encourages employees to come forward with mental health issues, clarifies the employer and employee’s role in the accommodation process, and gives the employee a better understanding of the steps involved should they require and seek accommodation. Employees are more prone to discuss any mental health issues with you if they know that no conversation is off the table. Like any other individual, employees affected by mental health issues want to know that they will not be judged or treated differently for disclosing their illness. Being able to offer your support is very important. After an employee discloses this information to you, it is important to sit down with them and develop a plan of action moving forward. Be supportive but ask clear and specific questions such as, “What type of support do you need from me in order to be successful?” or“What are some of your everyday struggles here at work?”. These types of questions can be helpful in creating a personalized plan for that employee.  

Educate your workforce

Providing training and learning opportunities in the workplace is a great way to de-stigmatize the workplace and provides managers and supervisors with the right tools to be alert to signs of mental illness. Some red flags include: disinterest in everyday work, productivity decreasing, frequent and unexplained absences, constant late arrivals, and inability to work collaboratively with co workers. Many people are not educated on the topic of mental health, therefore offering more information can be very helpful in creating a more supportive environment. According to Bell Let’s Talk day, 87%of Canadians reported that they are more aware of mental health issues since their initiatives began back in 2010. This proves that starting a conversation about mental health truly helps.

Join us in keeping the conversation going and working together to create a stigma-free Canada. 


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January 2019

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