Toronto, ON - The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) released the findings of its three-year Case Study Research Project that tracked 40 Canadian organizations from various industries and sectors as they successfully implemented the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard).

A global first, the Standard is a “made-in-Canada” set of guidelines, tools and resources to help employers promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work.

The Case Study Research Project findings identify promising practices and lessons learned from these organizations, representing 250,000 employees, which implemented the Standard in 2014.

Key findings include:

  • Ninety-one per cent of the organizations implemented the Standard because it is “the right thing to do”. Other reasons included “to protect the psychological health of employees” (84%) and “increase employee engagement” (72%).
  • Seventy-eight per cent implemented respectful workplace policies and educational initiatives.
  • Seventy per cent provided early intervention through employee and family assistance programs and services addressing mental health.
  • Sixty-six per cent enhanced awareness of mental health among employees.
  • Participating organizations achieved on average 72 per cent compliance with the five elements (commitment and policy, planning, implementation, evaluation and corrective action, management review) in the Standard, a remarkable improvement from 55 per cent compliance at the baseline stage.

In Canada alone, mental health problems and illnesses account for more than one third of disability claims and two-thirds of disability costs. A recent Ipsos poll found the Standard could be a contributing factor to the overall improvement in the psychological health and safety of Canadian workplaces. For example, employees living with depression who work in an organization using the Standard are missing five fewer days each year from work, according to the survey.

“Today, we aren't just saying mental health at work matters,” says Michael Wilson, MHCC Board Chair. “We see the results from 40 dedicated organizations from across Canada who rolled up their sleeves and led by example. They have helped put mental health and wellness at the heart of their organizations. Through their efforts a shift is happening on Bay Street and on Main Street. From small, independently owned businesses to the telecommunications giant Bell Canada, we now have a blueprint for successful implementation of the world's first workplace psychological health and safety standard.”

“No workplace is immune from mental health challenges, and now no workplace is without the resources to address them,” says Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. “The Standard gives every employer the opportunity to examine their mental wellness efforts and the tools they need to improve.”

The Case Study Research Project was led by the MHCC with funding support from Lundbeck Canada Inc., Great-West Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and the Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnership Program-Disability Component.

Supporting Quotes 

“Some of our studies have shown that addressing mental health in the workplace can make a difference for employees, as well as the business. That’s why Manulife recently increased its mental health benefits for employees in Canada. We see more and more of our clients also looking for solutions to help their employees address mental illness.

—Kathy McIlwham, Vice-President, Wellness, Disability & Life, Manulife

“At Michael Garron Hospital, we understand that in order to provide excellent patient care, we must invest in the physical and mental health of our workforce. While participating in the study, we have experienced a positive increase in staff engagement scores and a reduction in costs for long-term disability and medications for psychological disorders. Implementing the Standard at our hospital was the right decision and a natural evolution from a wellness paradigm focused primarily on physical well-being.”

– Sarah Downey, President & CEO, Michael Garron Hospital

 “Over the years, the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union has made it a priority to advocate for improvements to workplace mental health. This is why we were especially excited and proud in 2013 to be part of the first case study for the implementation of the Standard. Our hope is that our participation will help pave the way for other organizations like ours to align with the Standard and improve workplace culture going forward.”

Joan Jessome, Past President, Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union

“All questions pertaining to mental health must be acknowledged, addressed and treated. Once the process has begun, we realize the efficiency of the resources at everyone's disposal, including those close to them. Through this approach, we make our contribution towards eliminating stigma, and promoting the support programs available to colleagues, friends and family.”

Inspector Richard Burchill, Royal Canadian Mounted Police-Québec


Quick Facts

  • In any given year, one in five people in Canada experience a mental health problem or illness, with a cost to the economy of more than $50 billion.
  • In any given week, 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems.
  • In 2011, the mental health problems and illnesses of working adults in Canada cost employers more than $6 billion in lost productivity from absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover.
  • Over the next 30 years, the total cost to the Canadian economy will add up to more than $2.5 trillion.

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ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA

The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by Health Canada.
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca

Media Contact:
Hélène Côté, Senior Communications Advisor, Marketing and Communications
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Office: 613.683.3952
Mobile: 613.857.0840
hcote@mentalhealthcommission.ca

            

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The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial contribution from Health Canada.