The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace commissions research and the creation of new resources, working to expand knowledge on mental health issues affecting the workplace, and to turn that knowledge into practical strategies and tools for all employers in Canada.
Whether we've sponsored development of a resource, collaborated with another organization, or are providing information from a third party expert, we work to make resources widely accessible through our website and other means such as forums and events that bring interested parties together to share information.
Ipsos Reid surveys
Since its inception in 2007, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace has commissioned several major national surveys on psychological health and safety in the workplace. These surveys are among the largest of their kind in Canada. They provide data to help 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.
2007 Survey Overview
In 2007, the Centre engaged Ipsos Reid for a survey of Depression in the Workplace.
2009 Survey Overview
In 2009, the Centre engaged Ipsos Reid 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.
2007 and 2009 Surveys Overview
This piece provides an overview of both the 2007 and 2009 Ipsos Reid survey results.
2012 Survey Overview
This brochure covers highlights from the 2012 survey on Depression in the Workplace, Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, and Emotional Intelligence.
The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace 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).
Each of these projects contributed in their own way to the advancement of learning and knowledge of workplace mental health.
Free public resources
Many managers expressed that they learn better by seeing it done and learning to manage employees with mental health issues can be complex. Managing Mental Health Matters (MMHM) is a first-of-its-kind program that engages managers and supervisors in realistic, online, video-based learning. Managing Mental Health Matters covers accommodation, return-to-work, performance, emotional intelligence and conflict. This resource is produced by the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and was made available to anyone, at no charge on the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website in 2010.
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. On the Agenda is a series of presentation slides and supporting materials which can help facilitate discussions related to a psychologically safe workplace. It can be used as an extension of Guarding Minds @ Work™ or on its own, and was made available on the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website in 2010.
A woman who suffered through serious depression and ended up walking away from a 27-year career said that she wished she had access to a resource that would have helped her in her time of need. She said it could not be about mental illness because she did not recognize that she had one, and it could not be text heavy because her ability to read and concentrate was severely compromised. What she said would have been helpful was short video clips of people who also struggled at work, talking about how they coped. Working Through It™ was the answer to this woman's request and was created by Mental Health Works and Mood Disorders Association of Ontario with the support of the Centre. In September 2009, this resource was made available on the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website.
Someone reviewed the content of this website and said there was a lot of valuable material, but asked, "How do we know where to start or where best to apply limited resources?" Our response to that was the commissioning of Guarding Minds @ Work (GM@W). 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. It provides practical, user-friendly assessment tools, including an organizational review and an online survey to measure psychological health and safety in the workplace and was made available to Canadians at no charge in 2009 on the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website. In 2012, GM@W was updated to more effectively align with the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. In 2014, the Centre commissioned a user experience report on GM@W by Drs. Merv Gilbert and Dr. Dan Bilsker, profiling the experiences of organizations that have used this free online resource to work towards the Standard.
In 2009, Mental Health Commission of Canada launched A Leadership Framework for Advancing Workplace Mental Health which includes videos of Canadian leaders speaking out on the need for creating mentally healthy workplaces, as well as tools and information to help implement strategies.
Sponsorship and support
The Great-West Life Assurance Company, in support of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, has provided sponsorship of both Canada's Healthy Workplace Month and the development of a new Mental Health at Work Award. The inaugural award was presented in 2011.
The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace has sponsored four special editions of Moods Magazine (2011 to 2014), which featured a series of articles on employee and employer issues related to workplace mental health.
Advanced Strategies: Working Through the Tough Stuff
The 2007 Ipsos Reid Survey, commissioned by the Centre, identified that while the vast majority of managers felt supporting employees with depression was part of their responsibility, less than one-fifth had any training to do so. In response, the Centre went to Mental Health Works and asked them to develop a workshop to help managers support their employees with depression. Their answer was Advanced Strategies, and this workshop is now available through Mental Health Works, thanks to the support of the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.
ForumsVancouver 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 and resulted in the publishing of Elements and Priorities Towards a Psychologically Safer Workplace. This event was hosted by the Mental Health Commission of Canada with support from the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace. 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 Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace 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.
Centre's role in development of the National Standard
A brief history of the Centre's involvement in the advancement of psychological health and safety in the workplace and its role in development of the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.
Centre website launched in 2007What is now the Workplace Strategies for Mental Health website first went live in October 2007. The Centre's website offers employers practical ideas, tools and resources from a variety of sources, designed to help with the prevention, intervention and management of mental health issues. The website is updated regularly to ensure the content is up to date and in keeping with advancements in psychological health and safety in the workplace.
Centre's commitment to workplace mental health recognizedThe Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace is committed to enhancing workplace mental health, and that commitment has been recognized with awards from several organizations:
- Mary Ann Baynton, Program Director for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace, 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 The Great-West Life Assurance Company 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 The Great-West Life Assurance Company 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.