Overview

The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace (the Centre) was established in 2007 and 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

The Centre works to achieve these objectives by:

  • Funding and sponsoring research and initiatives aimed at improving the understanding, prevention and management of mental health issues, particularly as they impact the workplace
  • Promoting and facilitating knowledge exchange through the sharing of research, resources and survey results
  • Supporting the development of programs and resources aimed at improving psychological health and safety in the workplace
“Mental health is forever,” says Bill Wilkerson, CEO of Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health. In this video, Bill speaks about Great-West Life and the Centre.

Why we created the Centre

As a large employer and a leading provider of group benefits in Canada, Great-West Life sees firsthand the significant impact that mental health issues can have, including increased absences and disabilities, presenteeism and decreased productivity.

Great-West Life recognizes that mental health issues in the workplace can impact overall well-being and business competitiveness, and has supported research and projects into mental health in the workplace since 2003.

The Centre was established in 2007 as part of Great-West Life’s commitment to enriching communities across Canada, and its work is 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 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!
  • “The Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace 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 has been instrumental in funding and developing free resources for employers including Guarding Minds @ 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 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, the Centre works to turn knowledge into practical strategies and tools for all employers in Canada. Read more in Centre Initiatives.

Building on expertise and commitment

Meet the Centre’s 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 has served as the Program Director for the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace since its inception 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 positive impact. As a CDMP certified disability management professional, 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 the Centre, including experience meeting and working directly with employees who struggled with mental health issues and guiding them back to work.