by Greg Bambury
With Mental Health Week taking place this month, employers and employees across Canada are thinking about what mental health means to them. Tackling the stigma and creating mentally healthy workplaces can have a direct positive impact on employee morale and productivity.
Did you know?*
- On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.
- More than 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental illness.
- Approximately $51 billion each year are lost to the Canadian economy because of mental illness.
*Statistics from the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
To recognize Mental Health Week in our offices, our employee led wellness committees organized activities like mental health fairs and circulated mood buttons to help our people actively engage and think about mental health in their own lives, while at work. We brought in community partners to talk about direct mental health experiences and share locally available support resources.
Knowing that it might be challenging for some employees to participate in events, we also launched a new internal program called Not Myself Today. This program was created by Partners for Mental Health in 2013 to inspire mentally healthy workplaces, with the objective to create a supportive and empathetic environment where open, honest dialogue is not only permissible but also encouraged.
It’s also good to remember the advantages of services through your benefits plan. Employee and Family Assistance Plans and your personal health plan can help you find and access services in your community. Be sure your employees are aware of the various services available to them through their benefits plan if they have a mental health concern, but also those that promote good overall mental health. Everything from massage benefits to financial planning resources can help reduce stress and contribute to positive mental health.
More and more, employers are seeing mental health as an important business priority. Companies that care about the mental health and wellness of their employees can attract the best talent, keep them, and provide the kind of work environment where employees can stay well and contribute. And when people contribute, when they really buy in, productivity takes off.
Here are five tips to help you build a mentally healthy workplace:
- Say thank you—to those who work for you, to those who you work for, and to those you work with.
- Bring laughter into the workplace. This might involve sharing a funny personal story, a silly YouTube video or even a short session of laughter yoga.
- Recognize that we all have bumps in the road and everyone needs help from time to time.
- Explore ways to minimize disruptions to your employees. This might mean turning off mobile phones or email for one hour a day.
- Take a break – whether you meet a friend for lunch, or get up from your desk and go for a short walk to clear your head.
Balance isn’t an easy thing to manage. As an employer, your best approach is to model healthy behaviours wherever possible. And healthy behaviour includes a healthy attitude toward mental health.