The rise of absenteeism and presenteeism in the workplace due to mental health concerns is on the rise. Last week, the Montreal Gazette reported on the $412 Million paid by taxpayers for medical leaves in the Quebec Health network in 2014-2015. They go on to indicate that the majority of claims were reportedly due to employee burnout and mental health concerns.
This recent news has been paralleled by news of other organizations demonstrating strong efforts to support employee mental health and wellness across Canada. For example, Starbucks has recently the increased mental health coverage for employees from $500 to $5000 for every employee per year! Read more about Starbucks here. The University of Calgary has received a bronze- level certification for workplace mental health, demonstrating a commitment to their long-term mental health strategy (see the article here).
To start to overcome the hurdles and challenges in the office, we have rounded up some of our favourite resources to give you and your organization a starting point to make change and to develop a mental health strategy or plan that works for you.
1. Mental Health First Aid - Similar to a physical first aid course, this course/certification has been developed to provide a mental health support to a person experiencing a mental health crisis. Try training managers or a few company representatives in this area as they are often the first to recognize signs and symptoms of mental health issues in coworkers. Read more about courses here: http://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.ca/
2. The Canadian National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace - If you are looking for structure to develop change in your organization around mental health, look no further than the Standard. Read more about the Standard on the Mental Health Commission of Canada website. You can read testimonials of employers who have implemented it, and can learn from their experiences. They also offer free monthly webinars.
3. Educational Sessions - individuals in all levels of your organization need to learn about mental health, and how to best take care of themselves and their colleagues. Research shows that even though you have great resources available to employees (EAP, for example), they are underutilized. You need to continually educate employees on what is available and how they can access support. Hosting some lunch and learns or workshops may be a good starting point.
4. Mental health risk assessments - It is important to check in with employees regularly in regard to their mental health at work. Try the tools from Guarding Minds for a starting place. Perhaps adding some mental health questions to your annual or biannual employee engagement survey could be a good starting point. Once you know how people are feeling and what the gaps in your organization are, then you can start to develop a plan that is catered to your specific needs.
5. Anti-stigma campaigns - Get people talking about mental health at work and sharing their honest feelings. Check out the "Not Myself Today" campaign from Partners for Mental health, or start your own anti-stigma campaign to get the conversation started in your workplace.
Start something today to better support mental health in your workplace. Stop paying for reactive care, and start preventing mental health issues at work today!