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Supporting Mental Health at Work: Strategies for Employers and Employees

Over the past several years, there has been a notable shift in awareness and acknowledgment of the significance of mental health in the workplace. Employers recognize that prioritizing mental health and creating a psychologically safe workplace is not just a matter of compassion; it’s a strategic investment in creating healthier, more productive, and sustainable work environments. 

The majority of Canadians work between 35-45 hours per week, equating to roughly one-third of their lives spent on the jobi. With such a significant period of time spent at work, it’s essential to recognize the role of the workplace environment on one’s mental health. In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians will suffer from a mental illness. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 70 per cent of disability costs in the workplace are attributed to mental illness, and one-third of short and long-term disability claims are related to mental health problems. 

However, effectively creating a psychologically healthy and safe workplace goes beyond supporting those who openly disclose a mental illness. It requires supporting the 5 in 5 Canadians who have mental health, making psychological health and safety a priority for everyone. 

But what exactly does it mean to have a psychologically healthy and safe workplace? The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace identifies it as “a workplace that promotes workers’ psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to workers’ psychological health including in negligent, reckless, or intentional ways.”ii 

In essence, this means going beyond physical well-being and emphasizing emotional and mental aspects of health, ensuring that employees feel valued, supported, and free from undue stressors, enabling them to thrive professionally and personally. 

Some proven benefits of a psychologically healthy and safe workplace includeii:  

While there is no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to supporting mental health in the workplace, there are things both employers and employees can do to facilitate meaningful change:   

Commit to making the workplace a respectful environment
Treat everyone around you fairly and with kindness, support your peers and acknowledge their accomplishments, collaborate and be inclusive of diverse perspectives and opinions.  

Maintain a healthy work-life balance
Prioritize doing what you love outside of work, and ensure you get enough rest to help you show up every day as your best self. 

Enhance your mental health awareness and knowledge
Be aware of your own emotions in the workplace and communicate your needs. Educate yourself on mental health through books, podcasts, online learning, or training. 

If you are interested in creating a psychologically healthy and safe workplace at your organization, please click here. 

i Distribution of weekly working hours, 1976 to 2022 (
ii workforce-employers-guide.pdf (