In Ontario, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be unemployed and to report experiencing discrimination than people without mental illnesses (Ontario Human Rights Commission).
Lambton County residents are more likely than Ontarians to report that their employer promotes mental health.
Promoting mental health in the workplace can improve employee productivity, creativity, and engagement while reducing mental health problems, time away from work, and costs.
In workplaces, mental health promotion means building positive relationships among staff, building mental health awareness and skills, meaningful support from employers in responding to staff mental health needs, and transparent acceptance of employing people with mental health problems.
Greater attention is needed to building capacity of Lambton workplaces to promote mental health and address mental illness.
Greater attention is needed to monitoring and evaluating the impact of mental health promotion activities in Lambton workplaces.
“Be open, honest and non-judgmental about it. Encourage employees to take care of themselves and promote an overall healthy work environment. Find ways to help your employee to work from home or other avenues available so that they can continue to work and have a source of income and self-worth, if at all possible for both the employee and employer. “
– Community member
Mental health service users identified four main ways in which employers can promote positive mental health in the workplace.
By creating positive relationships between staff through regular communication channels, team building exercises and social events.
1. By creating positive relationships between staff through regular communication channels, team building exercises and social events.
Increasing awareness of mental health issues and encouraging employees to take care of their mental health through informational workshops or meetings, awareness days and personal development courses.
2. Increasing awareness of mental health issues and encouraging employees to take care of their mental health through informational workshops or meetings, awareness days and personal development courses.
Providing more tangible support from employers should employees need help with mental health issues.
3. Providing more tangible support from employers should employees need help with mental health issues.
Messaging for employers on the employability of those with mental health conditions.
4. Messaging for employers on the employability of those with mental health conditions.
Promotion and Prevention in Workplaces in Lambton
There are many resources and tools for workplaces to promote mental health so we asked a number of employers in Lambton County what is working for them. The examples in the table below are being carried out right now by employers across Lambton in order to promote and protect mental health in the workplace.
Mental Health Promotion
Activities or initiatives in the workplace that promote positive mental health among staff. This could include increasing staff connectedness, engagement, knowledge, and skills.
Wellness committees are groups of staff interested in improving the overall health and wellbeing of staff. They are often responsive to the needs of the staff and can carry out activities such as:
Mentally Healthy Policies and Procedures
Policies and procedures that support mental health are the backbone of a mentally healthy workplace. They demonstrate commitment, delineate staff roles, and ensure accountability.
Adoption of the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Psychological Health and Safety Standards. These 13 organizational requirements are vital components of a mentally healthy workplace. While the standard is voluntary, there are many benefits to considering early adoption and mental health is a necessary consideration in an overall health and safety policy and plan.
Other policies that protect mental health include protecting rights and supporting marginalized groups. This could include a policy supporting LGBTQ+ staff and clients (for example, a positive space policy) or a commitment to cultural safety through training.
Targeted Support for those in need
Planning to support staff in times of greater need is an important component in the workplace. Many employees will experience mental health problems in their lives and having a plan in place for managers, human resources, and external supports to help is key.
A number of employers have employee and family assistance programs (EAP) with easy access to free counselling support on topics ranging from mental health to financial or relationship issues. EAPs respond to the needs of individual staff and can help to navigate access to further mental health services but they also provide support and debriefing for whole teams or workplaces if there is a tragic or violent event. Some employers set aside specific benefits for counselling or other services related to mental health needs.