As awareness of mental health increases employers are expected to do more to support their staff and a new national standard is intended to help promote good mental health and prevent harm in the workplace.
The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace will be launched by Minister of Labour Lisa Raitt, who will join the three groups that developed the standard: the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the Bureau de Normalisation du Quebec (BNQ) and the CSA Group, formerly known as the Canadian Standards Association.
When the voluntary standard was first announced last year, MHCC president Louise Bradley said it was time that Canada had a mental wellbeing standard to match the physical standards already in place.
“The economic burden of mental disorders in Canada has been estimated at $51‐billion per year, with almost $20‐billion of that coming from workplace losses,” Bradley said. “The requirements for an employee’s physical health and safety in the workplace are a longstanding concern for Canadian employers. Now it’s time to consider the mental wellbeing of the workforce the same way.”
Nearly 30% of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are related to mental health problems and illnesses, according to the group. It said that by complying with the standard, companies could help ensure “the overall health and safety of their employees in an efficient and cost-effective manner”.
One in five Canadians experience mental health problems or illnesses and a 2011 study commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) predicts that, if not addressed, the impact of mental health problems will cost Canadian businesses $198 billion in lost productivity over the next 30 years.
"There is a clear business case which supports the need for continual improvement of psychological health and safety in the workplace," Bonnie Rose, President, Standards, CSA Group, said. "Workplaces with a positive approach to psychological health and safety have improved employee engagement, enhanced productivity, and a better financial outlook."
The standard is currently in a review stage and can be downloaded from the CSA Group website.