Psychological health and safety is a growing priority in Canadian workplaces. Many workers report rising stress levels, increased work pressures, and challenges balancing competing work and family demands. Nearly 50% report work as the most stressful part of their lives. 16% said that their job is a source of depression, anxiety or other mental health issues.
Mental health problems contribute to turnover, absenteeism, presenteeism and lost productivity. Each day, over 500,000 Canadians are absent from work because of their mental health. ⅓ of disability claims in canada are related to mental illness-this is growing. Mental health disability claims represent 70% of the total cost of disability claims.
Canada has developed a standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace. The National Standards of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace provides a framework for a documented and systematic approach to develop and sustain psychologically healthy workplaces. It addresses psychological health and safety aspects within the control, responsibility or influence of the workplace.
No longer is addressing psychological health and safety simply a thoughtful consideration. 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 all support the need for employers to provide a psychologically safe workplace. Furthermore, human rights legislation requires a duty to accommodate individuals with mental health disabilities. The risk of legal issues related to psychological injury and failure to provide a psychologically safe work environment continues to grow.
The benefits of investing in employee mental health and well-being include being better able to recruit and retain talent, improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, increased creativity and innovation, higher profit levels, and reduction of key workplace issues including risk of conflict, grievances, turnover, disability, injury, absenteeism and performance or morale problems.
There are numerous steps that workplaces can take to protect and promote the psychological health and safety of their workers. Whether the goal is to preserve or enhance a psychologically healthy workplace or to address a challenging or toxic workplace, a systematic, customized approach will provide you with information and recommendations to address your unique situation.
Karen Vanscoy, RN, BScN operates Mental Health Solutions and is a CMHA certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor with more than 25 years of mental health education and experience. Call 905-969-3999, email Karen at info@mymentalhealthsolutions or visit www.mymentalhealthsolutions.ca to book a free consultation to discuss how Karen can assist your organization to develop, promote and sustain the psychological health of your workplace.