While workplace mental health has emerged as a growing concern in recent years, the strain of the current pandemic and tragic events across Nova Scotia that claimed the lives of several Nova Scotians earlier this year have emphasized the need to cultivate and support psychologically healthy and safe workplaces in our province.
A workplace that is psychologically healthy and safe will respect and listen to workers, act on their concerns, and provide opportunities for workers to have some control over their work. This often results in fewer work-related injuries and illnesses, less time loss and shorter time off work when injuries and illnesses occur, less absenteeism, and more productive and engaged workers.
While some organizations are working to implement a specific Psychological Health and Safety Management System based on the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety (CSA Z1003), it’s not essential to have a separate, formal management system in place to start improving the psychological health and safety for employees in your workplace.
If you are already working on improving your safety culture, reducing work-related injuries, supporting the recovery of injured workers with a stay-at-work/return-to-work program, and involving workers in continuous improvement initiatives, you are likely already doing much of what is needed for a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.
According to Employment and Social Development Canada, employers can build a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being to keep their workforce strong and competitive, by:
- Encouraging employee participation and decision-making
- Clearly defining employees’ duties and responsibilities
- Promoting work-life balance
- Encouraging and modeling respectful behaviours
- Managing workloads
- Providing training and learning opportunities
- Having conflict resolution practices in place
- Recognizing employees’ contributions effectively
Taking steps to reduce stigma, and making resources easily and readily available when they’re needed, are also ways that employers can build a supportive work environment.
For more helpful tools and resources including a Q&A, video, and related stats, visit the Psychologically Healthy Workplaces page at worksafeforlife.ca
For workplace mental health support during the coronavirus pandemic, visit the Canadian Mental Health Association’s wellness resource hub at https://caringtogether-cmhans.ca/
Other tools and resources that may be helpful are:
- Healthy Minds@Work, a hub of tools and resources to support workplace parties in their efforts to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.
- The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard)
- Mental Health First Aid, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, aims to improve mental health literacy and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague
- Hear from long-time supporter of workplace safety and mental health, Linda Corkum, who recognized the need to provide mental health education and training through her role as Executive Director at the Nova Scotia Trucking Safety Association (Retired). There, she brought in The Working Mind Program making it the first trucking association in Canada to implement the program.