The workplace has an important influence on a person’s mental health and well-being. It’s now accepted that the workplace can affect a person’s mental health on an every day basis, through their interactions and relationships at work. Employers can help to create a psychologically healthy workplace that promotes positive mental health and well-being for everyone. Key elements to address are stressors such as harassment, bullying, work overload or lack of control over work.
Click the tabs for steps you can take.
Employers can create a health-supporting workplace through policy approaches.
Develop a Mental Health and Well-being Policy that is appropriate and relevant to your workplace. Such a policy could include:
- Recognition that a healthy, safe and supportive working environment can positively affect mental well-being, and in turn both creativity and productivity
- Creating and maintaining working environments that are engaging, inclusive of a variety of ideas and perspectives, and where responsibilities are shared appropriately
- Treating all individuals with respect, equality and openness
- Reducing or removing barriers to workers’ participation in personal and organizational development opportunities
- Create a statement about the organization’s commitment to a workplace that supports mental health and well-being and actions to be taken
- Ensure workers know about the policy and include it in new employee orientation.
- Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation is a voluntary standard focused on promoting employees’ psychological health and preventing psychological harm due to workplace factors. Published by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013)
- Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with Mood Problems in the Workplace - Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction and BC Mental Health & Addiction Services (2009)
- Understanding What a Healthy Mind Is - Wellness Fits (2012)
- Reducing Work-Life Conflict: What Works? What Doesn't? – Health Canada (2008)
- Guarding Minds at Work 2.0: A Workplace Guide to Psychological Safety and Health - Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction.
Existing programs designed to support individuals include:
- Individually-directed health promotion and self-help initiatives such as Living Life to the Full and Bounce Back: Reclaim Your Health (Canadian Mental Health Association)
- Sign up for the WellnessFits workplace health program to access the Healthy Minds Module, which provides education materials, activity ideas and policy suggestions.
Employers can create a health-supporting workplace. Here are some ideas:
- Use Guarding Minds at Work 2.0: A Workplace Guide to Psychological Safety and Health to assess and address psychological risk factors in the workplace environment.
- Offer employee support for dealing with significant change in management, high staff turnover or changes in working conditions.
- Include psychological support (i.e. counselling services or the services of a psychologist/psychiatrist) as part of the benefits package offered to employees.
- Provide a quiet space or sick room.
- Offer workshops, lunch & learn sessions and training to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of mental illness, and to help managers and employees address workplace stress.