Companies implementing psychological safety standard because it's 'the right thing to do’

In any given week, 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems
|www.cos-mag.com

Ninety-one per cent of the organizations that implemented the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace did so because it was "the right thing to do.” Other reasons included "to protect the psychological health of employees" (84 per cent) and "increase employee engagement" (72 per cent), according to a case study by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

Forty Canadian organizations from various industries and sectors, representing 250,000 employees, were tracked for the case study over three years. They all successfully implemented the psychological safety standard.

"Today, we aren't just saying mental health at work matters," said 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."

Seventy-eight per cent of the organizations 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, found the study.

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, the commission said.

In Canada alone, mental health problems and illnesses account for more than one-third of disability claims and two-thirds of disability costs.

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.

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