The CatalystConversations on Mental Health
The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) is increasingly garnering praise at home and abroad for its quality, comprehensiveness and influence. The Standard is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools and resources to help employers promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work. It was developed collaboratively by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec and launched in 2013.
An international review of workplace mental health guidelines published this August in the Preventive Medicine journal, found the Standard scored highest for both the quality (90%) and comprehensiveness of content (100%), ahead of 20 other guidelines reviewed. The review examined guidelines that were developed for use by employers to detect, prevent, and manage mental health conditions within the workplace and which took an integrated approach by combining expertise from medicine, psychology, public health, management, and occupational health and safety.
The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada, a Canadian research report published this February and partially funded by the MHCC, found that 83% of key informants identified the Standard as the most influential initiative in advancing workplace mental health over the past 10 years. The MHCC was also identified by over three quarters of the key informants as the single most influential agency in bringing about positive change within this same time frame. The study was commissioned by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and conducted by researchers at the University of Fredericton.
“The Standard has grown from a theoretical framework to an international sensation in just five years. 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.”
Downloads of the Standard continue at an impressive rate—over 38,000 unique downloads as of this April and counting—and contrary to typical standards, this shows no sign of abating. “The continued steady uptake of this document … speaks volumes to the interest in this area of work and the ongoing support and acceptance the Standard is receiving from our stakeholders in the industry,” said Jill Collins, Project Manager for Occupational Health and Safety at the Canadian Standards Association Group and a key informant in the Canadian study.
Workplace mental health is not just about the workplace notes Bradley. “It’s a ripple effect. From boardroom tables to dinner tables and from communities of practice to hockey practice, addressing mental health at work opens the dialogue everywhere we go. The more you learn about protecting your mental health as an employee, the more knowledge you can share with your spouse, your child, a friend or neighbour.”
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