CMHA celebrates new workplace standard

Canadian Mental Health Association has reached a critical turning point in building mentally healthy workplaces all around the country.

  • Jan. 27, 2013 10:00 a.m.

The Canadian Mental Health Association has reached a critical turning point in the challenge to build mentally healthy workplaces all around the country.

The Canadian Standards Association, together with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, have just implemented the National Standard of Canada’s Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace on prevention, promotion and guidance.

The standard, both for employers and employees, defines and sets a higher standard for workplace mental health with a goal of protecting and improving the mental health of Canadian workers.

The CMHA B.C. division believes the standard provides a structure and systematic process that will make it easier for Canadian employers to develop and improve psychologically healthy and safe work environments.

“In an environment of increasing chronic workplace stress which, if not addressed, can result in both physical and psychological harm, we have seen a growing need for clearly defined guidelines to protect employees’ mental health,” said Lynn Spence, acting CEO of CMHA B.C. “Employers and unions are increasingly aware of the benefits of taking responsibility and prioritizing mental wellness, and the standard provides guidelines for taking practical steps to do so.”

According to statistics, 44 per cent of Canadian employees report experiencing mental health problems. An estimated $20.7 billion loss in labour force participation is due to common mental disorders.

The standard will offer employers, employees and employee representatives guidance to address these issues in their workplace, said Spence.

“Implementing the standard will benefit employers as well as workers. Research indicates that employers who implement effective workplace safety and wellness strategies perform better in key categories such as employee engagement, lower turnover, and shareholder returns,” she said.

According to a 2012 conference board of Canada survey, a majority of managers say that while they are informed about mental health issues, most feel ill equipped and would benefit from training to help employees with mental health problems stay at work or return to work successfully and healthily.

That’s where CMHA comes in. For more than 10 years, CMHA has been providing training for workplaces to help them through workplace-focussed education and training, including its award-winning Mental Health Works program.

To learn more about the CMHA’s 10th anniversary Bottom Line Conference, taking place in Vancouver Feb. 27 and 28,  and to access the new national standard at no cost, visit www.bottomlineconference.ca.