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February 5, 2014

Employers look at workplace mental health

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has announced plans to partner with more than 25 employers on a three-year research project aimed at driving uptake of the world's first National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Launched a year ago, the voluntary Standard offers a framework of tools for employers to promote mental health and prevent psychological harm.

“On any given week, roughly half a million Canadians will miss work due to a mental health problem or illness,” said Louise Bradley, MHCC president and chief executive officer.

“As a result, mental health problems have become more than a serious public health issue – it’s also a major economic issue facing Canadian business. The standard is aimed at preventing mental injury, reducing absenteeism, and supporting a healthier, more competitive workforce.”

The new case study research project will track workplaces across Canada as they adopt the Standard over the next three years, creating a solid knowledge base to inform national expansion of the standard.

In one year, the response to the standard has been positive, garnering government support and endorsement from some of Canada’s most prominent business leaders.

In addition, tools such as the Standard are a helpful way to support working people through changes in the employment landscape.

“The reality of a changing economy and the workplace instability it creates faces all of us,” said Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress.

“There is no question that in these uncertain times, workplace mental health is severely tested, and often affected.”

Since the standard’s Jan. 16, 2013 launch, it has been downloaded more than 16,000 times.

“The positive response we have received from businesses, stakeholders and individuals regarding the role this standard is playing in improving workplace mental health is overwhelming,” said Bonnie Rose, president, standards, CSA Group.

“The mental health of employees is as vital as their physical safety on the job and this standard, combined with other occupational health and safety standards, is a testament to the commitment of participating organizations and stakeholders to play a leading role in helping to make Canada a leader in workplace health and safety issues.”

The development of the Standard was funded in part by the federal government and through financial contributions from the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and Bell Canada.

The Standard is available through www.shopcsa.ca and www.bnq.qc.ca.

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