The resounding theme amongst the pioneers and key informants interviewed in 2016 by mental health researcher Dr. Joti Samra for her report entitled Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada is that there has been incredible progress, but we still have a long way to go.
Most agree that the rate of change and improvement has been relatively fast. Much has been accomplished in the last decade and many who have been part of this evolution say it's been the ride of their lives.
As François Legault, who has been promoting workplace mental health in various roles for over 30 years, said, "Who would have guessed we'd come this far in this amount of time?"
Other longtime pioneers like Maureen Shaw, former CEO of the Industrial Accident Prevention Association (IAPA), has a call to action for all of those who have been pioneers in the evolution of workplace mental health. "We need to continue to figure out how to meet workplace leaders face to face and use the influence we have to make a difference," she said.
Dave Johnston, former President and COO, Canada, Great-West Life, hopes that we will look at the next phase of the evolution of workplace mental health as being built on a "business passion" rather than just a "business case". Johnston said, "Passion for your people drives more proactive and positive workplace mental health. This can result not just in improved employee productivity, but also in more engaged and contributing employees. That," he said, "is worth investing in."
Many others shared with Dr. Samra their visions for the future of workplace mental health in Canada:
- Include a commitment to psychological health and safety of employees within mission, vision and values statements.
- Continue to advance understanding of resilience/trauma.
- Recognize and support employees who are family members of those with mental health concerns.
- Expand EAP/EFAP programs to better address mental health concerns.
- Provide training for employees in psychological health and safety.
- Provide training for those who wish to use the free resources on the Centre's Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website.
- Expand the role of peer support.
- Conduct more research to provide evidence-based practices that can be transferred into the business world.
- Envision a day when we no longer have to talk about workplace mental health or psychological health and safety - it's just how things are done.
As we wind down 2017, we look back on all that has been accomplished and all that has yet to be done. We are grateful for the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of working Canadians and look forward to continuing this work in 2018 and beyond.
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