Mental Health is a topic that has gained more attention each year with awareness campaigns, videos, and with public figure profiles. But most medium to small businesses still struggle to implement mental health strategies within their workplaces.
The Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) has recently released a report focused on helping businesses develop such strategies to help reduce health care costs and employee absenteeism. While most employers (81% reported) believed it was important to support their staff with mental wellness, only 35% of small business, 65% of medium-sized business and 76% of large business had mental health strategies.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada finds that the cost of mental health to the economy is $50 billion per year. The challenge with mental health is that it can be an intimidating topic for employers and employees. In response to the gap, the OCC has developed a toolkit based on three principles:
1. Setting Expectations – Creating a mentally healthy workplace is a journey and employers do not need to have all the answers.
2. Creating a Supportive Environment – Leadership, from not only management but employees themselves, is needed to create a supportive environment where everyone can feel empowered by the focus on mental wellness.
3. Maintaining the Conversation – Businesses are encouraged to regularly assess if they are sticking with their mission on mental wellness.
The local Canadian Mental Health Association- Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge sees over 5,000 clients every year and receives over 1,000 phone calls each month.
A recent Canadian Mental Health Association survey found that the top factors employed Canadians believe need to be addressed to improve mental health in their workplace are: Work overload/demands, Challenges with work-life balance, A lack of trust in leadership, A lack of transparency and honesty, A lack of support/tools.