Does Your Workplace Care About Your Mental Health?

Our May 7 PublicTalks explored how companies can help and why it’s good for business.


Does your boss proactively look for ways to ensure your mental health is a company concern?  

When we asked that question of the audience at our recent event on mental health in the workplace, I’d estimate that only about 10% – max – of the attendees put up their hands.

But that wasn’t a surprise to the experts we had lined up that night. In fact, management buy-in to a culture of empathy and care for employee health and well-being is one of the key hurdles that must be overcome to ensure the problem of mental health in the workplace is being properly addressed.  

And it’s a big problem: The Mental Health Commission of Canada found that in any given week, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a psychological health issue.

Smart employers are seeing the benefits of acting. Gap’s Mary Bolan talked about the changes to her company’s EAP and the success it has had rolling out the Canadian Mental Health Association’s “Not Myself Today” program. CivicAction’s Linda Weichel talked about her organization’s 3-minute assessment tool that helps determine what simple actions your company can take to support your workforce’s mental health (nearly 1000 organizations have already done so).   

Creating this kind of culture also helps employees feel less constrained in speaking up when they are not at their best: “Taking on mental health is about helping people find a voice and have a voice when they need it most,” said Andrew Dubowec, VP at League, a benefits provider pioneering the use of data to develop products and services better tailored to employee needs.   

Yes, 3rd party programs, accommodations, better coverage in EAPs and EFAPs, more generous leave policies, and the like aren’t inexpensive. But, as the CMHA’s Jordan Friesen reminded us, the cost of inaction is far greater: nearly 1 in 2 working Canadians consider work to be the most stressful part of their daily lives, contributing to the $20 billion annually in lost productivity, absenteeism, and turnover that corporate Canada is seeing today. I’d add there’s a significant cost to a brand’s reputation in being labelled an uncaring workplace that is not reflected in those numbers.

When it comes to your employees mental wellbeing, an ounce of prevention is definitely worth a pound of cure.

– Dan Dunsky is VP, Engagement at Public Inc.

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