SUMMARY: A 3-year national research study has been undertaken by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to determine how Canadian employers are using the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Results will help identify promising practices, formulate programs, and develop educational tools and processes to help more organizations adopt the Standard and to promote mentally healthy workplaces overall.

Join the conversation as we share questions and ideas from our participants and expert panel. Visit the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) website for more information about the Case Study Research Project.

Taking a strategic approach to psychological health and safety

August 2015

An organization’s campaign to support a workplace psychological health and safety initiative can be strengthened by ensuring that the goals of the campaign are clearly communicated to all concerned.

Such goals will vary depending on the organization. Some suggestions include:

  • Making employees aware of steps they can take to protect their own mental health at and outside of work
  • Engaging employees in contributing to psychological health and safety at work
  • Reducing stigma associated with mental illness
  • Providing a safe environment for employees to talk about mental health concerns.

It can be helpful to align campaign goals with an assessment of specific concerns. If civility and respect are identified as concerns for example, the campaign could look at improving civility among teams as an initial goal. Choosing the approach based on careful assessment will help target the efforts on issues that are known to impact psychological health and safety in your organization.

Identifying issues with employees and responding to them with a clearly relevant strategy helps avoid employees feeling like they’ve been parachuted into a campaign that has nothing to do with their concerns.

Organizations can also leverage annual events such as Mental Health Week in May, Canada’s Healthy Workplace Month every October, and Mental Illness Awareness Week, also in October, to raise awareness of their campaigns and to identify and address any known workplace concerns. For example, one organization used Mental Health Week as an opportunity to address workplace bullying.

The implementation plan for the campaign should provide the necessary tools, resources and communication to support the campaign’s goals. Leadership buy-in, communicating the goals across the organization and working to ensure that they are part of all decisions around policy and process also help to support sustainable success.

While any of these concepts may be introduced as part of a workplace psychological health and safety campaign, they should ultimately be ingrained in workplace practices and part of a process of continuous improvement, in much the same way that many organizations have handled physical health and safety in the workplace. 

Additional reading

Not Myself Today – Is a campaign offered by Partners for Mental Health that focuses on helping companies and organizations achieve outcomes related to creating a better understanding of one’s own mental health, reducing stigma and fostering a safe, open and supportive work environment.

Mindful Employer In-House  – Provides support and guidance for establishing campaigns to address the needs of those who support, manage or lead employees.