Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Workplace Strategies) is an initiative of Canada Life. The program was established in 2007 as the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and launched its new name on Sept. 29, 2019. It has three main objectives:

  • Increase knowledge and awareness of workplace psychological health and safety
  • Improve the ability to respond to mental health issues at work
  • Turn knowledge into action through practical strategies and tools for employers

Workplace Strategies works to achieve these objectives by:

  • Funding and sponsoring research and initiatives aimed at improving the understanding, prevention and management of mental health issues - especially as they impact the workplace
  • Promoting and facilitating the sharing of research, resources and survey results
  • Supporting the development of programs and resources to improve psychological health and safety in the workplace

Why we created Workplace Strategies

Canada Life is a large employer and a leading provider of group benefits in Canada. The company sees firsthand the significant impact of mental health issues. Increased absences and disabilities, presenteeism and decreased productivity are some workplace impacts.

Canada Life recognizes that mental health issues in the workplace can impact overall well-being and business competitiveness. Great-West Life and the Centre (predecessor to Workplace Strategies) has supported research and projects into mental health in the workplace since 2003.

Workplace Strategies was established in 2007 as part of Great-West Life’s commitment to enriching communities across Canada. As an initiative of Canada Life, its work continues to be supported by the company through its national corporate citizenship policy, Stronger Communities Together.

Dave Johnston, Former President and COO (retired), Great-West Life, shares why the Centre (predecessor of Workplace Strategies for Mental Health) was started and how it has continued to evolve to meet the needs of Canadian workplaces.

What people are saying

Sarah Jenner, Executive Director, Mindful Employer Canada, describes how workplaces have evolved to be more supportive of employees who may be experiencing mental health issues at work.

We appreciate the encouragement and support the Centre has received from visitors to this website and those who have put our free tools and resources to work in their organizations:

  • “I have just signed into your site. Having both worked in the mental health field and dealt with family issues with depression, I commend your goals to take this field out of the dark ages.”
  • “What a great initiative you’ve undertaken for creating psychologically healthier workplaces. Bravo!”
  • “Just wanted to say, well done! What a superb website you have created, full of information needed in the workplace. Thanks!
  • “This is a vital resource to us and our stakeholders when faced with understanding complex situations. It is fresh, current and committed to easing the confusion around mental health. If employers, unions, and benefits plan sponsors are not using this, they are missing out!”
We welcome you to contact us with any feedback that can help us continue to improve our resources and the quality of information we provide.

Supporting psychological health and safety

The Centre (predecessor to Workplace Strategies) has been instrumental in funding and developing free resources for employers including Guarding Minds at Work, Managing Mental Health Matters, Working Through It, On the Agenda, Psychologically Safe Leaders, Psychologically Safe Interactions, Plan for Resilience, and much more.

We played a key role alongside the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) and the Bureau de normalization du Québec (BNQ), in developing the voluntary National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) championed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC). We continue to work collaboratively with the MHCC and other organizations to help promote good psychological health and prevent psychological harm, through implementation of the Standard in workplaces of all sizes across Canada.

To celebrate the Centre’s 10th anniversary in 2017, we looked at the advancements in workplace mental health over the past decade and honoured those that have helped us to make a difference along the way. Advancing Workplace Mental Health Since 2007 features a few of the videos that capture this time. All of this culminated in the book The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Toward a standard for psychological health and safety which is available for free download.

Free public resources for employers

The Centre (predecessor to Workplace Strategies) is a leading source of free, practical tools and resources designed to help Canadian employers with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues. All tools and resources are available in English and French to anyone, anywhere, at no cost.

This Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website is the primary vehicle through which we make these resources available. A healthier workplace can result in significant and sustainable gains in productivity, recruitment and retention, cost reductions due to lower disability and absentee rates, conflict reduction, and operational success.

Whether we've sponsored development of a resource, collaborated with another organization, commissioned a research study, or are providing information from experts, Workplace Strategies works to turn knowledge into practical strategies and tools for all employers in Canada. Read more in Workplace Strategies Initiatives.

Building on expertise and commitment

Meet the Workplace Strategies management team:

Executive Director

Diane Bezdikian

Senior Vice-President, Plan Member Services, Great-West Life

Diane Bezdikian has a passion for health and wellness. Diane is a senior executive at Great-West Life with responsibility for all Plan Member services including claims, medical underwriting and administration of individual health programs. Overall, Diane is responsible for operations that employ over 2,400 staff located in offices across Canada.

Program Director

Mary Ann Baynton

Mary Ann Baynton serves as the Director of Strategy and Collaboration for Workplace Strategies for Mental Health. She’s held the role since the inception of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, predecessor to Workplace Strategies, in 2007. She is also principal of Mary Ann Baynton & Associates where she consults with all levels of government and a diverse range of organizations that include unions, associations, and institutions across the country. Mary Ann’s areas of expertise include workplace mental health, psychological safety, resolving conflict, and addressing performance concerns. She strives to help people get unstuck, move beyond problems, restore productivity and improve working lives.

Liaison in Quebec and francophone communities across Canada

Paolo Tirelli

Organizational Health Consultant, Great-West Life

Through his coaching and speaking engagements, Paolo Tirelli helps organizations learn about the resources available through the Centre and steps that they can take in their own organizations to improve mental health.

Paolo works with employers and consultants to develop prevention, health, wellness, and disability strategies that will have a positive impact. As a certified disability management professional (CDMP), and through his experience as a rehabilitation consultant and disability case manager, Paolo brings more than 10 years of experience in disability management to his role with Workplace Strategies, including experience meeting and working directly with employees who struggled with mental health issues and guiding them back to work.