We spend the majority of our waking hours working. Is it then any wonder that a lot of our stress comes from the workplace? Whether it be the workload, the boss or the teammates, what happens in the workplace directly impacts employees’ mental health.

Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) estimates that by 2041 poor mental health will have a cumulative cost of over $2.5 trillion to the economy.

See more: https://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/workplace-mental-health/workplacementalhealth-a-review-and-recommendations-pdf.pdf

Canadian employers see the impact of poor mental health firsthand. Every week more than 500,000 Canadians miss work because of mental illness.

When it comes to mental health, organizations that fail to plan for their employees’ wellbeing plan to fail.

Mental Health Strategy: Is your organization proactive or reactive?

A study in the UK found that the cost of reacting to the loss of productivity from employees with depression is 23 times higher than the cost of treating depression in the health care system.

Consequently, employers who implement a workplace mental health strategy will not only find cost savings, they will set industry standards and become leaders as an employer.

Improving the health and wellbeing of our employees makes good business sense

Other benefits to budgeting for workplace mental health:

  • Boosting morale
  • Promoting psychological safety
  • Improving employee retention
  • Reducing absenteeism
  • Improving overall wellbeing of the organization

It may seem like a no-brainer for organizations to develop and implement a mental health strategy however, only 39% of Canadian employers have such a strategy in place.

Mental Health and EDI:

If you aren’t convinced about the importance of a company-wide wellness strategy, seeing mental health through the equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI) lens will surely make you reconsider.

Mental health and EDI are closely related.  

Visible minorities and people in the 2SLGBTQ+ community face stress and mental health challenges at a higher rate than their counterparts. Challenges arising from unconscious biases, microaggressions and discrimination have a deep impact on mental health.

 A recent study found that 32% of 2SLGBTQ+ Canadians consider their mental health to be poor, compared to 16% of heterosexuals who answered the same question. 40% have seriously contemplated suicide, and 41% have been diagnosed with mood or anxiety disorder.

(https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/daily-quotidien/210615/dq210615a-eng.htm)

Members of the  2SLGBTQ+ community still find themselves not fully comfortable being who they are in their workplaces. That’s why it has become crucial to invest in a mental strategy that extends to all facets of an employee’s wellbeing. 

Final notes on being proactive:

Follow the legal obligations of Canadian employers, but don’t stop there:

●    Offer extended mental health benefits

●    Improve your cultural competency

●    Hire a Wellness Officer – someone who is solely responsible for working to improve health and well-being companywide.

●    Gather data and measure the impact

●    Understand ROI for psychological services

Mentally healthy individuals show up to work as their best selves. They have the support and tools they need to manage their wellbeing, and they have a positive impact in the overall organization.

The employee wins. And the organization wins.

Integrating a robust mental health strategy in your organization will require time, resources, and financial commitment, but it is the most proactive approach to addressing some of the most pressing issues organizations face today.

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