Employers More Aware of Mental Health in the Workplace

Susan Armstrong, public health nurse with Mark Henick, mental health advocate

November 16, 2016 - Today, managers and human resources professionals from various sectors attended a dynamic presentation at the Health Unit about supporting employee mental wellness. Guest presenter and mental health advocate, Mark Henick, addressed the crowd of over 70 participants and several more from across the region via webcast. The event was an initiative of the Superior Mental Wellness @ Work project.

The mental wellness of workers is a growing concern for local employers who recognize that mental health issues that go unaddressed can have a profound impact on an organization. For the attendees --- who are eager to learn more on how to promote psychological well-being among staff - Henick explained the newest research, most interesting trends and promising practices in workplace mental health.

‘‘Most people are unwilling to tell their supervisor if they are struggling with a mental health problem, let alone ask for help. Yet, most people who receive the help they need for common mental health problems will recover,’’ Henick says.

‘‘The unnecessary silence is costing companies billions, and too often costing individual employees their lives. It doesn't have to be this way. Mental health problems are generally not complicated or expensive to accommodate at work when the core issue is identified and addressed.’’

Henick’s insights come from both his own struggles with mental health and his professional capacity as program manager for Mental Health Works, Canadian Mental Health Association Ontario. His presentation is the kick-off to a series of guest speaker events that will be offered Thunder Bay and District over the next two years. Each event will offer a unique perspective on promoting and protecting mental health in the workplace. In addition, in-depth training courses on implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and local resources will be offered.

The Superior Mental Wellness @ Work project is a collaborative initiative involving several community partners in Thunder Bay. It aims to promote mental wellness in worksites in Thunder Bay and across the district with special funding from the Ontario Ministry of Labour.

QUOTES

‘‘A workplace has a significant role in helping employees manage their own mental health. At the very least, they should do no harm and ensure that the organizational culture and practices do not put employees at risk for psychological injury.’’

-Silva Sawula, Manager of Healthy Living at Thunder Bay District Health Unit

‘‘When someone receives the help they need to do their job well, the sense of mastery and confidence that builds as a result can be a strong support for all other aspects of their life. Gone are the days when work was just a job. Work is personal. When we do our work more personally, we can better reach out to others, and we can make it a safer place for people to reach back.’’

-Mark Henick, Mental health advocate

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Mental Health