SUMMARY: One inexpensive way to increase mental health awareness is to use the free resource Working Through It. What follows is an outline of a session you can facilitate for your leaders, including supervisors, managers, union representatives and executives. This will better prepare them to support employees with mental health issues.

Suggested three-hour awareness session for leaders

The following framework can be modified to meet your timing needs and group size.

10 minutes

Introduction of the topic

Explain why this is an issue – turnover, absenteeism, disability, conflict, performance problems, human rights complaints, duty to accommodate, grievances, etc.

Share senior management's support for the strategy of addressing mental health issues.

Be explicit that this is part of a wider strategy that includes education, training, changes in processes and procedures, development of resources, and measurement of effectiveness.

Discuss how participants will be recognized for their efforts to support positive workplace mental health and why this matters to them.

10 minutes

Identification of issues

Hold an open discussion about what supervisors see that may indicate an employee has a mental health concern. You are looking for examples of behaviours rather than symptoms.

Ask what makes these behaviours challenging for leaders.

Record the answers to use in a follow-up meeting to brainstorm solutions.

60 minutes

Viewing the first half of the video

Before viewing, ask participants to write down the following discussion points:

  • Information learned about mental illness
    ("aha" moments or "I did not know that!")
  • Questions that arose
  • One "test the team" question to ask the group

They will be engaging in discussion about these points half way through watching the video.

If you are viewing online, go to

Pause at the end of Dr. Anthony Levitt talking about "Concerns with Medication" and before Gord Conley talks about "My Experience in a Treatment Centre" (approximately 60 minutes).

15 minutes

Facilitate discussion about the three points.

BREAK – 10 minutes

50 minutes

Resume video and ask participants to continue thinking about the discussion points.

20 minutes

Facilitate discussion from second half of the video using the discussion points.

5 minutes

Wrap up: Ask participants what they will do differently as a result of what they have learned.

Consider assigning the first episode on Managing Mental Health Matters as a next step in leader education.

To learn more about facilitating Managing Mental Health Matters, see the Managing Mental Health Matters Leader's Guide.