Two new tools for employers wanting to strengthen workplace mental health are within reach, according to announcements celebrating the first anniversary of CSA's standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace.
"We can't afford to think of occupational health and safety any longer without considering the psychological part of it," said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada during a press conference held to announce the new initiatives. Employers could avoid up to 25% of the mental disability costs they pay by implementing workplace strategies, she said.
The new initiatives include a training course on leadership skills, and a research project that will identify best practices in implementing CSA-Z1003/BNQ 9700-803, Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
Training for managers: a university-certified training program developed by HR consulting firm Morneau Shepell in conjunction with Queen's University's Faculty of Health Sciences builds on training developed by the firm for Bell Canada. Bell was instrumental in developing CSA's new standard.
More than 4,000 Bell team leaders have already completed the original training program, which presents mental health from a health and business perspective and introduces related management practices. The expanded program will extend managers' skills, strategies and resources. It's also available to other organizations.
According to George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada, Bell's investment in mental health is just good business. Bell has 55,000 employees, and Cope estimates that on any workday 1,000 Bell employees are off work because of mental health issues. Bell's commitment to mental health officially began in 2010 when Cope announced the organization would invest $50 million in a multi-year national campaign. This figure has since surpassed $67 million.
Dr. Heather Stuart, the Bell Canada Chair in Mental Health and Anti-Stigma Research at Queen's, said Bell's investment is making significant inroads in improving workplace mental health and removing stigma, which people with mental illness often describe as worse than the illness itself.
Starting March 14, Canadian Olympian Clara Hughes will confront the headwinds of stigma as she rides across Canada. To learn more, see "Fighting the stigma of mental illness..." elsewhere in this issue.
A $1.4 million solutions-based research project led by MHCC that will assess the impact of the new standard on 30 organizations already implementing it. The resulting case studies will identify challenges, barriers, best practices, costs and advantages associated with implementing the standard.
What these initiatives mean for workplaces
"Workplaces need resources such as the Morneau Shepell training modules so that they can help people remain at work or return to work," says Andrew Harkness, WSPS's key account manager - OHSW Management Systems and a member of the technical committee that created the standard. "But we also need to identify workplace sources that are causing or contributing to some of these issues. This is where the research project comes in. It’s really going to help folks in several ways." For instance:
motivation - if other workplaces can do it, we can do it
building a business case - if their senior management has found a reason to implement the standard, which of their arguments can we use to convince our senior management
best practices - if they’re struggling in certain areas, what can we learn from them.
How WSPS can help
Our organizational health consultants can help your business determine what psychological hazards may exist in your workplace and implement the standard.
As well, these sessions at Partners in Prevention 2014 Health & Safety Conference & Trade Show, taking place April 29-30 in Mississauga, ON, can help broaden your understand of workplace mental health challenges and solutions:
Burst Your Bubble - Implementing a Mental Health Program
Do No Harm: Preventing Psychological Injury at Work
New Horizons in Health and Safety: The Psychologically Healthy and Safe Workplace
Psychology and Safety: Why Is OHS 50 Years Behind?
Supervisors Forum: Managing Mental Health in the Workplace
Psychological Health & Safety in the Workplace - Navigating for Successful Implementation (CAN/CSA Z1003-12BNQ 9700-803/2013)