Make a Difference for Mental Health in the Workplace

In January 2013, Canada launched the world’s first standard on psychological health and safety in the workplace. It was a significant occasion for Canada to show its leadership in this area.

Less than a year later, organizations from across the country are looking at this voluntary standard and exploring ways to implement it in their workplace.

If you’re scratching your head right now wondering why you haven’t heard of it, don’t worry – the following will give you some ideas on how to start on the road to psychological health and safety in your small business. As they say, there’s no time like the present!

What Does Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Mean?

Unlike the visuals provided by a safety harness or a hard hat, many Canadians don’t have a clear picture in their minds of what psychological health and safety looks like.

Does it mean sitting around the common area singing songs together? Does it mean high-fiving your colleagues on the way into work? Does it mean flexible work arrangements?

In fact, psychological health and safety is based on 13 factors. Here’s the list:

  1. Psychological support
  2. Organizational Culture
  3. Clear Leadership and Expectations
  4. Civility and Respect
  5. Psychological Job Fit
  6. Growth and Development
  7. Recognition and Reward
  8. Involvement and Influence
  9. Workload Management
  10. Engagement
  11. Balance
  12. Psychological Protection
  13. Protection of Physical Safety

You can learn more about each of these thirteen factors by downloading the standard at www.csa/z1003. Guarding Minds at Work is another great resource for information and assessment tools related to these factors, which can be found at

But I Don’t Have an HR Department!

If you’re like most small businesses, you may not have the people power to do a formal assessment of where your organization is at in terms of these thirteen factors.

That’s okay. Instead, why not take a moment to consider what you do well. Do you offer your employees some flexibility in terms of their start and end times? Are you available for conversations about deadlines and workload? Do you give your people the opportunity to really connect their work to your customers? When you hire new workers, do you consider their emotional intelligence, their ability to be reflective and considerate while still tackling difficult concerns?

If you answered yes to any of these, or if you can visualize other areas where you create psychological health and safety, take ten minutes to celebrate this success and consider ways you can build on it.

What You Can Do Now

The Canadian Mental Health Association BC Division has tips on its website about how businesses, big or small, can start to build psychologically health and safe workplace. Here are three tips you can implement this week:

  • Have a meeting with your employees about the big picture. Do more listening than talking.
  • Say thank you—to those who work for you, those who you work for and those you work with.
  • Leave work for an hour, a day or a week for non-work reasons and tell the whole team what you’re doing. Balance isn’t an easy thing to teach. Your best approach is to model healthy behavior.

Make a Difference

On November 22, 2013, the Canadian Mental Health Association will host the second seminar in a series on workplace mental health. CMHA will discuss the national standard on psychological health and safety, and will also prepare you for the likelihood that either you or one of your employees will experience a mental illness during their working years.

By taking proactive mental health measures now, you can heighten engagement, improve productivity, lower absenteeism, and ultimately, help your bottom line.