Whether we've sponsored development of a resource, collaborated with another organization, or are providing information from a third party expert, the Centre works to make resources widely accessible through our website and other means, and turns that knowledge into practical strategies and tools for all employers in Canada.
Each of the following initiatives contributed in its own way to the advancement of learning and knowledge of workplace mental health.
The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Research Report
The focus of the Evolution of Workplace Mental Health in Canada: Research Report (2007-2017) was to examine the evolution of Canadian workplace mental health policies and strategies over the past ten years.
This project was commissioned by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace to support research through the University of Fredericton, led by Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych.
Please note that, while this report includes an extensive investigation and overview of factors that have contributed to the evolution of workplace mental health from 2007-2017, the evolutionary factors discussed in this report were identified as a result of a combination of national survey data and interviews with experts in the area of workplace mental health. We appreciate and acknowledge there are myriad individuals, agencies, and initiatives that have positively contributed to the present state of the workplace mental health landscape in Canada, but, by way of research design, may not be mentioned or highlighted in this report.
In 2016, the Centre engaged Ipsos to conduct a national public opinion research survey related to psychological health and safety in the workplace. This is the third such survey Ipsos has conducted on behalf of the Centre, following earlier waves in 2009 and 2012.
The Centre commissioned three national surveys on psychological health and safety in the workplace, and four on depression in the workplace. They are among the largest surveys of their kind in Canada.
These surveys provide data to help the Centre and likeminded organizations define and respond to workplace mental health needs, including identifying and addressing psychological health and safety in the workplace, responding to depression in the workplace, and assessing emotional intelligence.
2012 Survey Overview
The Centre engaged Ipsos for two follow-up surveys to provide an update on the 2007 and 2009 surveys, as well as to conduct a third survey on emotional intelligence of managers and supervisors in the workplace. This brochure covers highlights from the 2012 survey on Depression in the Workplace, Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and Emotional Intelligence.
2009 Survey Overview
The Centre engaged Ipsos once more for a survey of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, as well as a follow-up to the Depression in the Workplace survey.
2007 and 2009 Surveys Overview
This piece provides an overview of both the 2007 and 2009 Ipsos Reid survey results.
2007 Survey Overview
The Centre engaged Ipsos for a survey of Depression in the Workplace.
The Clinical Innovation Fund
Through the Canadian Psychiatric Association Innovation Fund, Great-West Life contributed funding to assist research that supports the objectives and values of the Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. In 2010, six research projects were funded to examine the following:
- Effective return-to-work strategies for employees with an anxiety disorder (Principal Investigator (PI): S. Parikh).
- A mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for prevention of depression relapse (PI: A. Lesage).
- A program to identify factors contributing to the risk of workplace violence and employee aggression (PI: R. Randhawa).
- A disease management intervention designed to reduce disability (PI: M. Lau).
- Innovative strategies to improve collaboration between psychiatrists and family doctors (PI: J. Samra).
- A program for dissemination of a behavioural intervention for low mood and depression in psychiatric care (PI: M.C. Seto).
Free public resources
The Centre has worked with various organizations with expertise in the area of resource development to create and provide, free-of-charge, practical ideas, tools and resources designed to help with the prevention, intervention and management of workplace mental health issues.
All of the following resources are available in English and French to anyone, at no charge, through the Centre’s website at www.workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com.
Guarding Minds @ Work
Self-service resources to help small to large employers assess the psychological health and safety of their own workplace, and includes a framework for action planning and evaluation. The program helps employers understand and effectively address psychosocial issues affecting health and productivity in their workplace.
Dr. Joti Samra, Dr. Merv Gilbert, Dr. Martin Shain and Dr. Dan Bilsker acted as researchers and practitioners through the Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH), a leading national research centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, B.C.
Guarding Minds @ Work provides practical, user-friendly assessment tools, including an organizational review and an online survey to measure psychological health and safety in the workplace. It was first made available through the Centre’s website in 2009 and was subsequently updated in 2012 to more effectively align with the Standard.
In 2014, the Centre commissioned a user experience report on Guarding Minds @ Work by Dr. Merv Gilbert and Dr. Dan Bilsker, profiling the experiences of organizations that have used this free online resource to work towards the Standard.
On the Agenda
A series of videos and interactive sessions to help managers engage their teams in discussions about addressing workplace issues that may impact mental health.
Not all managers or team leaders are natural facilitators and may feel uncomfortable talking about the issue of workplace mental health. When we designed On the Agenda, we had these leaders in mind as well as those with a high level of skill in dealing with these issues.
On the Agenda is a series of videos, presentation slides and supporting materials which can help facilitate discussions related to a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. It can be used as an extension of Guarding Minds @ Work™ or on its own, and was first made available through the Centre’s website in 2010.
Managing Mental Health Matters
A scenario-based training program designed to help managers, supervisors and other leaders learn how to effectively recognize and manage mental health-related issues in the workplace through a series of online videos and activities. The five episodes provide a guide on “Managing Emotions,” “Managing Accommodation,” “Managing Performance,” Managing Conflict,” and “Managing Return to Work,” Guides are available for those who train or supervise managers.
Many managers expressed that learning to manage employees with mental health issues can be complex, and that they learn better by seeing it done. Managing Mental Health Matters (MMHM) is a first-of-its-kind program that engages managers and supervisors in realistic, online, video-based learning. MMHM covers emotions, accommodation, return-to-work, performance and conflict management.
This resource was first made available through the Centre’s website in 2010.
Working Through It
A video-based resource to help individuals reclaim well-being at work, off work or when returning to work. It focuses on video interviews of real people sharing their experiences of working through times of mental health pressures.
Their messages, aimed at employees, include three important themes – you are not alone; there are things you can do to reclaim your well-being; and there is hope for a better tomorrow.
Supplementary reference and checklist documents are also available as part of this resource. A Leader’s Guide is also available to help you use this resource for mental health awareness education.
Working Through It was created by Mental Health Works and the Mood Disorders Association of Ontario with the support of the Centre. It was first made available on the Centre’s website in 2009.
Supporting Employee Success
A tool to help managers feel more comfortable talking about mental health issues, to help healthcare providers better understand workplace demands, and to help employees return or continue to work.
Healthcare professionals, employees and workplaces need a process to use when an employee may be in need of an accommodation. Supporting Employee Success (SES) was developed to provide a process that helps assess work-related triggers for emotional or cognitive issues, supports a thoughtful approach to finding accommodations and facilitates the employee's well-being, while meeting the requirement for a safe and productive workplace.
This resource was created by Dr. Ian Arnold and Suzanne Arnold, PhD, with input from Dr. David Brown and Dr. David Posen. Thanks to members of the Canadian Labour Congress, and Donna Hardaker and Stéphane Grenier, for their valuable feedback.
CMHA Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisor Training
The Centre has supported the development of this certificate program with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to help train individuals as CMHA Certified Psychological Health and Safety Advisors (PH&S Advisors). Contact the CMHA for information on upcoming certificate training opportunities.
Certificate in Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
With the support of the Centre, an online university program called Certificate in Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace has been developed by Dr. Joti Samra for the University of Fredericton (UFred). This program provides the knowledge and skills to help create and sustain a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. Courses include a focus on the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard). To learn more about the three-level certificate program, view UFred’s website.
Canada’s Safest Employers Psychological Safety Award
The Centre helped to establish and sponsored the national Psychological Safety Award as part of Canadian Occupational Safety magazine’s Canada's Safest Employers Awards. The Psychological Safety Award recognizes an employer that is a leader in working towards identifying, and reducing or eliminating psychological hazards to employee well-being in the workplace, such as bullying, harassment or chronic pressure.
The Centre has sponsored and contributed to seven special editions of Moods Magazine (2011 to 2017), which have featured articles on employee and employer issues related to workplace mental health.
Toronto Forum - University/College Community of Practice for Workplace Wellness
In June 2016 in Toronto, the fourth annual forum took place, attracting human resource and workplace wellness professionals from Canadian universities and colleges. This forum is a singular opportunity to provide disability management and health promotion leadership, input and direction in the development of valuable and useful resources for improved mental health in our workplaces.
Topics included: The Evolution of Workplace Mental Health, The Students' Perspective on Responding to Mental Health Issues on Campus, Mindfulness - Practice and Review, Tools for Supporting Employee Success, Resiliency and Health Promotion and Mental Health.
The event was hosted by the Centre, with support from the University of Waterloo and UBC Okanagan.
Occupational Health Professional Forums
The Occupational Health Professional Forums have been a collaborative opportunity for sharing ideas, planning, testing and implementing resources to help support mental health in workplaces across Canada. The Centre began its support of the Occupational Health Professional Forum in June 2013 – where health professionals discussed the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and the challenges to implement it. Tools and resources to help support mental health in the workplace, along with the concept of a new resource called Supporting Employee Success (a process to use when an employee may be in need of an accommodation), were also the focus of the forum.
Vancouver Forum - Mental Health Commission of Canada
On September 30, 2010 in Vancouver, British Columbia, a group of executives, labour leaders, health and safety professionals, government agency representatives and experts in law and policy came together to look at the implications of Dr. Martin Shain's paper entitled Tracking the Perfect Legal Storm: Converging systems create mounting pressure to create the psychologically safe workplace.
The group was tasked with considering what employers need to know and/or access to provide a psychologically safe workplace in today's economic environment. This also resulted in the publication of Elements and Priorities for Working Towards a Psychologically Safer Workplace.
This event was hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with support from the Centre. In 2014, the Centre commissioned a second paper, Weathering the Perfect Legal Storm, which is a follow-up to Dr. Shain's 2010 report.
Consensus Conference on a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace
In 2009 a group of leaders and specialists drawn from government, labour, business, research, standards development and occupational health and safety were brought together by the Centre and facilitated by Bill Wilkerson, Founder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health and Addiction. The purpose of the forum was to determine the benefit to the Canadian public in general, and every Canadian employee and employer in particular, of developing a national standard for psychological health and safety in the workplace. Consensus was reached and the Mental Health Commission of Canada committed to taking this forward to completion.
The Centre’s role in the development of the National Standard
The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Workforce Advisory Committee provided leadership, and championed the development of the Standard. The Standard was funded by the Government of Canada and the Centre.
Here is a brief history of the Centre’s involvement in the development of the Standard.
Assembling the Pieces: An Implementation Guide to the Standard was developed by CSA Group and the Mental Health Commission of Canada, with help from the Centre. Available for free download, this easy-to-use guide breaks down the implementation process for the Standard into four key steps.
The 2009 Ipsos survey evaluated risk levels of psychological health and safety in the workplace. Two follow-up surveys (with over 6,600 employed participants) were conducted in 2012 to track progress on perceptions of Depression in the Workplace and Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. A third survey explored a new dimension, the Emotional Intelligence of managers and supervisors in the workplace.
These surveys provided data to help define and respond to workplace mental health needs, including identifying and addressing psychological health and safety in the workplace and addressing depression in the workplace. A few of the highlighted findings include:
- 83 per cent of respondents agreed it is easier for workplaces to deal with physical disabilities than with mental health conditions.
- 83 per cent of respondents agreed that workers have a responsibility to self-identify if they have a mental illness but 31 per cent felt that their direct supervisor would not be understanding or supportive if they did so.
The Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (with additional funding support from the Centre and support for the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s role by Bell Canada) created a balanced Technical Committee and finalized the Standard. Mike Schwartz and Mary Ann Baynton served on the Technical Committee.
The Centre added a new section to its Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website to support employers who wish to implement a psychological health and safety management system, as described in the Standard.
Great-West Life funded updates to Guarding Minds @ Work to align with the Standard as well as three new Ipsos surveys on psychological health and safety in the workplace, depression in the workplace and a new area – emotional intelligence of managers.
You can download a free copy of the Standard from http://www.csa.ca/z1003/ (English version).
At the request of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and with funding from the Government of Canada, the Canadian Standards Association and Bureau de normalisation du Québec began work on creating a national standard.
The Centre and the Mental Health Commission of Canada hosted a forum to ask leaders from government, policy, labour and business to describe what is required for a psychologically healthy and safe workplace. The result is the Elements and Priorities for Working Toward a Psychologically Safer Workplace.
In response to the question of where to begin and where to invest limited time and resources in improving workplace mental health, the Centre commissioned the development of Guarding Minds @ Work. This breakthrough evidence-based tool, that employers can use free of charge, helps assess and address organizational factors that impact workplace psychological health and safety.
The Centre also commissioned the largest and most significant Canadian study to date to evaluate risk levels of psychological health and safety in the workplace. This survey was conducted by Ipsos and followed the Centre’s 2007 survey on depression in the workplace.
The Centre, along with the Mental Health Commission of Canada, hosted a roundtable to ask key leaders if a national standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace would be useful. There was unanimous consensus that a voluntary national standard would provide a valuable framework for employers.
The Centre was established by Great-West Life in response to a call to action by the Global Business & Economic Roundtable on Mental Health and Addiction. The Centre’s mandate was to take knowledge about workplace mental health and turn it into action, tools, and resources for employers. Initiatives, programs, events, research and surveys are funded by the Centre and by Great-West Life’s national corporate citizenship program, Stronger Communities Together.
The Centre is committed to enhancing workplace mental health, and that commitment has been recognized with awards from several organizations:
- Mike Schwartz, Senior Vice-President, Canada Transformation, and former Executive Director of the Centre, was the recipient of the 2016 Pillar of Hope Award.
- Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Centre, was the recipient of a CSA Group Award of Merit, 2015
- Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Centre, was co-recipient of the 2013 Canadian Workplace Wellness Pioneer Award
- Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, Mental Illness Awareness Week. Champion - Private Sector
- Who's Who in Workplace Health
- 2009 Champions of Mental Health
- 2009 Web Award for Outstanding Achievement in Web Development
- The Manitoba Schizophrenia Society Corporate Achievement Award was presented to Great-West Life in recognition of the company's philosophy, dedication and support in the workplace for those with mental illness. For more information about the Manitoba Schizophrenia Society, click here.
- The Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, Work and Well-Being Award was presented to Great-West for its outstanding contribution in the promotion of mental health in the workplace. The award identifies an organization that has demonstrated the promotion of mental health in the workplace and co-operation between employees and community and agents within the workplace. For more information about the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario, click here.