By Mary Ann Baynton
What a year it's been! We celebrated the 10th year anniversaries of both the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
In addition, The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada Research Report was produced by Dr. Joti Samra and colleagues. This research helped us understand which initiatives made a difference in advancing the cause of ensuring mentally healthy workplaces. The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, which was identified in the report as one of the main influences on this evolution, celebrated four years in use and has had over 35,000 downloads to date.
Finally, we wrote a book called "The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Toward a standard for psychological health and safety."
It's been a year of looking back fondly over the many people who have contributed their passion and sweat equity to the cause, as well as a time to look forward to what is possible and necessary for future developments.
It has also been a time when we recognized how important it is to practice what we preach. In our excitement and enthusiasm to make a positive difference in the field of workplace mental health, many of us act like we are the shoemaker's children. No time for our own needs to be considered as we have many others who need our services.
I have seen colleagues, professionals, and entrepreneurs in many sectors push themselves to a breaking point and a few, who at least temporarily, break. I know a thing or two about this because as I write this, I realize I almost hit a wall. In my enthusiasm to do more and do it better and reach more people, I came very close to being unable to do anything.
In our field we talk about organizational responsibility and believe strongly that employers should do no harm. We recommend they focus on providing a psychologically safe workplace with reasonable demands and clarity of expectations. But we have not spoken as much about those of us who create our own demands and consistently have unreasonable expectations of ourselves. What responsibility do we have to protect our own mental health? As we begin the new year, part of my focus is to take more responsibility for my own well-being and to encourage others who are passionate and driven to do the same. We are role models for younger workers and we could be accused of hypocrisy if we think what we preach is only for others. So, my new year's resolution is to work with and encourage all of the over achievers, the passionate visionaries, the committed advocates, the driven and the fervid helpers to step back and consider - if we can't walk the talk of protecting our own mental health, should we still be talking?