Mental Health in the Workplace ~ a new resource to share!

Well, first off, my apologies – this has been quite the gap between entries. A fall cold had taken me out at the knees for a couple of weeks, and when combined with a hectic schedule, here I am, a great deal of time later…

Anyway, a bit back, a feeling rose to the surface about writing a piece on mental health in the workplace (maybe my “Happy = Productive” piece planted a seed…). Thankfully, due to a lot of recent exposure in the media, the awareness and level of understanding of this topic has increased greatly. In our country, 1 out of 5 people will suffer from a mental health disorder in their lifetime, according to Health Canada. And if it isn’t you, one of your friends, family members, or co-workers will be affected.

This heavy statistic is reason enough to broach this topic, yet I found ever since I had decided I wanted to write about it, more and more stories, information and evidence of the necessity of mental health promotion in the workplace came into my experience.

Recently, I was privileged to attend the Health Work & Wellness conference in Toronto where I was exposed to a number of liked-minded and inspiring wellness professionals. It was excellent; the people I met, the ideas which were shared, and the information I learned all made the experience invaluable. And, by no surprise, a lot of conversations centred on the dire need for education, training, and policy and procedure development for addressing mental health issues.

Amongst these peers, who represented workplace wellness Canada-wide, it also became evident that there were a number of great ideas ready to be put into action or already being executed. Let me introduce you to an incredible on-line resource (which blew my mind), called the “Workplace Strategies for Mental Health,” found at: It was introduced to us by Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director of Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and Dr. Joti Samra who is an Organizational & Media Consultant. These two women were instrumental in the creation of this resource, which, by the way, is available at no charge to any employer and the public at large.

The amount of information on the site is staggering. There are resources tailored to specific job roles (e.g. Employee, Union Leader, HR Professional, etc.), facts & figures needed for making the business case for mental health promotion, and detailed interactive programs which engage and educate the user. And this is just a sliver of what is available.

Oh and here is the written “asterisk,” I am NOT getting any kick-backs, or was hired to promote this resource. As I mentioned in my first entry, the purpose of this blog is to introduce you to a variety of health and wellness concepts, research findings and resources that will assist you. And to not share this would be a disservice.

Anyway, the topic of mental health is a massive one, and most certainly can’t be adequately addressed in a couple of entries on a blog. But, I am sure that it will continue to appear here, as, according to the 2009 National Wellness Survey conducted by Buffet & Company, work-related stress and mental health issues are the top two health risks affecting Canadian organizations (in the 634 companies which took part in the survey). In 2000, the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health stated that at that time, these health risks equated to an economic loss to Canadian companies equivalent to 14% of their net operating profits. That leads me to wonder what that cost would look like now, 11 years later, especially when you consider Buffet & Company’s findings (keep an eye out, the results of 2011 Survey are being introduced next week!).

Whether it’s that dollar figure that speaks to you, or a personal experience, mental health disorders are a serious and intricate problem that requires attention and exposure. Mental health awareness is usually addressed in Canada during the month of May (although the 10th of this month it was acknowledged globally). But why wait until then? Mental illnesses don’t.

What steps are being taken where you work? Are there any?

And even more exciting and empowering: how can you help?

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