Personal and professional demands can test the mental health of all of us. Recent changes in the Canadian workforce, such as remote working, hybrid, and in-person models, have brought about challenges in meeting work demands. These can be a source of stress and have an impact on employees' mental health and wellness in the workplace.
In fact, the Mental Health Commission of Canada finds that 70% of Canadian employees are concerned about their workplace's psychological health, and 14% consider their workplace unhealthy or unsafe.
Business leaders need to ask themselves:
- How can I best support my people to be resilient?
- How can I sustain a safe and accommodating workplace environment for my people?
- How can I be a better leader for my team when it comes to mental health?
Lead by example
Harvard Business Review advises that “when we acknowledge our mental health, we get to know ourselves better, and are more authentic people, employees, and leaders. Research has found that feeling authentic and open at work leads to better performance, engagement, employee retention, and overall well-being.”
Talking about mental wellness is an important facet of self-care for all members of the team—including leaders. Communication lessens stigmatization and supports team members. According to a CBC article on why you and your boss should talk honestly about your mental health, 75% of employers acknowledge the presence of stigma in their workplaces.
It's crucial for leaders to ensure they understand the stigma around mental health in the workplace through means of training, changing the way mental health is perceived, providing benefits and resources, and most importantly: regular check-ins.
Lead with communication
Genuine communication will help you provide your employees with a healthy, safe, inclusive, accessible, and supportive workplace. If your team is virtual, it's crucial to maintain strong connections—be mindful to keep the open and authentic channels of communication you would have if your team worked in a shared office. On the other hand, if your team embraces a hybrid model, or even if you're fully back to in-person work, it's key to sustain these conversations and reassure employees that their wellness is a top priority.
Begin the conversation by sharing resources that support mental wellness—and sharing your experiences.
Lead with access to mental health resources
While not exhaustive, we've curated a list of available resources to support conversations around mental wellness in your workplace.
If your organization has an employee and family assistance plan (EFAP), start by providing information on how to access the confidential service—most EFAPs are available 24/7/365 and are an immediate resource.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA): Not Myself Today
Leaders should be aware of CMHA's Not Myself Today program, which provides learning modules and other tools for employees to manage their mental health. Designed to support employees, CMHA aims at raising awareness around mental health issues, reducing the stigma, and fostering safe and supportive work cultures.
CAMH: The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health
CAMH offers an A–Z online repository of “accessible, reliable, professionally produced resources on an array of mental health topics for patients, families, students, and professionals.”
A list of resources for areas in and around Toronto, as well as remote services—both online and mobile toll-free numbers—are also available for emergencies, crisis, and support. Visit the CAMH crisis resources for more details.
Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists
The Ontario Society of Registered Psychotherapists (OSP) website is designed to help people find therapists in recognized modalities that are not limited to the medical model. All OSP Clinical and Qualifying Members are Registered Psychotherapists who meet rigorous standards of practice and ethics. Many employee benefit plans cover psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, as well as psychiatry.
Videos, text-based resources, and resilience-building activities are available through Stronger Minds by BEACON to help participants overcome stress and stay positive—all content is based on the insights of clinical psychologists. Stronger Minds by BEACON is now free for Ontario residents.
The School of Life, an organization that aims at helping individuals and organizations navigate self-understanding, resilience, and connection through an array of services such as articles, videos, as well as virtual workshops and social events, online therapy, and other resources.
The School of Life emphasizes “the need to understand ourselves better, so we can secure serenity and make optimally reliable decisions, particularly around love and work.”
An app for individuals or organizations, Tranquility Online helps those living with anxiety get access to help that is stigma-free, affordable, timely, personal, and accessible.
Headspace is an app that provides guided meditations to help people sleep, relax, and stay focused.
Calm is an app that helps users sleep better, boost confidence, and reduce stress and anxiety by using guided meditations, relaxing music, and bedtime stories. There is a seven-day free trial, but the app does have an annual cost.
Mental health: an ongoing conversation
Communicate consistently, clearly, compassionately—sharing your own humanity—to start the conversation about mental health in your workplace.
Call on these practices to continue the dialogue with your people about mental wellness.
Contact us to learn how we can help you support the success of your people.