Whether it’s physical health, mental health, having a safe workplace, or just getting along with each other, it’s increasingly important for employers to be proactive when it comes to the health of their employees. This week the focus is on mental health with Bell Let’s Talk Day having taken place yesterday.
Mental health in the workplace for employees and employers has been an issue the Chamber Network has been working on for some time at the provincial and federal levels.
At both levels, the business community is asking for help from the government in the form of developing a national strategy, help with training for employers, as well as creating an improved policy framework to allow employers to offer the Employee Assistance Program to their employees.
The emphasis of Bell Let’s Talk is to encourage conversation and action around mental health, and with good reason. The Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have provided the following research evidence to demonstrate the significant impact of mental health problems in the workplace:
The provincial policy resolution approved by the Chamber Network at the 2018 Ontario Chamber of
Commerce Annual General Meeting asks government to:
At the national level, a policy resolution was passed by Chamber delegates at the 2018 National Annual General Meeting calling for more data to be provided on program outcomes and for business owners and entrepreneurs to be considered when developing programs.
The resolution speaks to the greater focus on entrepreneurship, highlighting a 2017 study by Bluteau DeVenney which showed that 72 per cent of entrepreneurs live with some form of mental illness, 40.5 per cent report their mental health had worsened since becoming entrepreneurs and 47.3 per cent report a decline in their overall health. Starting and building a business caused negative impacts in the personal relationships and social lives of 74.5 per cent of respondents. Entrepreneurs are 3.5 times as likely to experience mental illness and five times as likely to contemplate suicide as the general public.
A report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce reveals that 81% of businesses believe that it is
important to support their employees’ mental wellness in the workplace; however, only 35% of small business, 65% of medium sized business and 76% of large business have mental health strategies.
In response to the gap, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has developed a toolkit based on three principles:
Setting Expectations – Creating a mentally healthy workplace is a journey and employers do not need to have all the answers. A good way to start is assessing their businesses by looking for barriers,
support and opportunities for change, as well as identifying potential stress points in their workplace.
Creating a Supportive Environment – Leadership, from not only management but
employees themselves, is needed to create a supportive environment where everyone can feel
comfortable with and empowered by the focus on mental wellness.
Maintaining the Conversation – Businesses are encouraged to regularly assess if they are sticking with their mission on mental wellness. Feedback and using data to measure progress are several ways to do this.
Start a conversation today.