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One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem or illness every year. That is approximately 7 million of us. However, despite how common mental illness continues to be met with widespread stigma. Workplaces can play an essential part in maintaining positive mental health. On a positive note, they can give people the opportunity to feel productive and contributing to a greater good. However, on the opposite spectrum, it can be a stressful environment that contributes to the rise of mental health problems and illnesses.

Mental illness is the public policy challenge of the 21st century. Each week in Canada, 500,000 employees are absent from work, and mental health claims are becoming both the largest and fastest-growing category of disability costs. The World Economic Forum estimated mental disorders as the largest cost driver at $2.56 trillion in global costs in 2010, with projected costs of $6 trillion by 2030.

The costs for mental disorders are greater than the costs of diabetes, respiratory disorders, and cancer combined.

A positive work environment is everyone’s responsibility – from the individual employees to the organization as a whole. They both have a responsibility to shift the culture to a mentally healthy workplace. It requires strategic planning and meaningful action and leadership. The only right way to start a change is to simply start.

There are solutions.

Spearheaded by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, otherwise known as the Standard, is a framework for organizations to lay the foundation in support of providing a mentally healthy and safe environment for workers.

It provides a guidance on how to promote psychological health and prevent psychological harm due to workplace factors. It includes tools and resources that are applicable to any organization regardless of size or sector that is located in Canada. The Standard is the first of its kind and has garnered interest internationally.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce is committed to addressing mental health in the workplace and is in the process of adopting the Standard. 

Click here for tools and resources for creating a mentally healthy workplace.

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