Canada Implements National Standard for Mental Health in the Workplace

April 4, 2013 | Ontario

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and nonprofit association the CSA Group have teamed up to set a universal standard for workplace psychological health and safety.

The standard helps simplify how to approach certain issues related to a person's well-being, and gives employers and other professionals a specific process to follow if and when they address these matters with their coworkers.

"One in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or mental illness in any given year and many of the most at-risk individuals are in their early working years," said Louise Bradley, MHCC president and chief executive officer. "Canadians spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. It's time to start thinking about mental well-being in the same way as we consider physical well-being, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace."

Now, when workers think they have recognized a mental health concern, they can follow a mapped-out process. The systematic method includes assessing risks in the workplace that could be contributing to a condition, implementing practices that help promote psychological health and promoting a culture that embraces and encourages psychological strength and safety in the workplace.

By giving professionals a standard to rely on, the new initiative is ultimately helping individuals confront and resolve mental health concerns they might have otherwise ignored. Lisa Raitt, federal labour minister, had her own experience with post-partum depression in 2004 and is overjoyed that this new plan will help bring mental health into the open, The Toronto Star reports.

"As in my case, people who suffer from mental illness are afraid," she told the news source. "They're afraid they're going to be treated differently, they're afraid they're not going to be as respected if they reveal they have a problem. And some may even be afraid of losing their jobs. It's a topic we still don't talk enough about."

According to the MHCC, mental illness accounts for about 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims, and in 2011, cost businesses $6 billion in lost productivity and absenteeism. With the new standard, companies can flag stress-related issues and prevent mental health problems from unraveling down the road.

Students who are interested in learning more about mental health and other social issues, such as addiction or at risk youth, can enroll in the Addiction and Community Services Worker program at CDI College. For more information, fill out the form on the right.

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