As champions of workplace mental health across the country, the Mental Health Commission of Canada realizes the importance of also demonstrating leadership on this issue within our own organization.
We are fully committed to ensuring the mental health of our employees is protected, and we have been and will continue to take meaningful steps toward strengthening these critical safeguards.
One of our most important tools in this regard is the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. A world first and entirely voluntary, the National Standard helps employers of all sizes, and in all sectors, promote good mental health and prevent psychological harm for every employee. Even as it was being developed, the National Standard was guiding our internal policies, practices and processes. And we continue to implement its recommendations as we strive to become model organization for optimizing the health of the people who work for us and with us.
In alignment with the first section of the National Standard that speaks to leadership, commitment and participation, our Board of Directors and Executive Leadership Team endorsed a physical health and safety policy statement that clearly defines our commitment to employees. Roles and responsibilities were clearly defined and communicated to staff across the Commission.
We also expanded our existing physical health and safety committee to include a psychological health and wellness component. This aspect of the committee implements ongoing initiatives in support of employees’ mental well-being. This committee is a way for employees to participate in the development, implementation and continual improvement of processes and policies to ensure the psychological well-being of their workplace. Planning is one of the foundational pieces in the National Standard. In February 2012, we undertook an employee wellness survey to gather information on the psychosocial factors that may be putting employee psychological health and organizational psychological safety at risk. With a 70% participation rate, we received rich and valuable information allowing us to identify several areas in need of improvement. We then undertook focus groups to gather additional information in those areas, and based on the information from the survey and focus groups, our benefits data and other key indicators, we developed wellness and operational indicators and a wellness work-plan. This was presented to staff, the executive team, and Board of Directors and we are now in the midst of implementation.
Our management team, including the Executive Team, have received psychological health and safety training. All staff, including management, are offered Mental Health First Aid training at no cost. The Commission has established/revised policies to include psychological health and safety, examples include accessibility policy, accommodation policy, disability/health management policy, anti-harassment and discrimination policy and workplace violence prevention policy. We have increased our benefits, implemented flexible work arrangements, and have also made our sick/vacation leave more flexible to meet the various needs of employees.
We truly believe that the physical and mental health, well-being and safety of employees are key to organizational success and sustainability.