Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important

Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (For Employees and Employers)

Posted by Avail Content
29 days ago

It’s an employers’ role to create the conditions for psychologically safe environments—the culture, policies, pay and workload. Large or small, every workplace has an ability to implement workplace strategies for mental health

Employees also play a crucial role in their own wellbeing at work and the wellbeing of those around them. Workplaces, after all, are made of their employees—individual humans coming together to work on a common goal. 

Given this dual role employees and employers can play when it comes to fostering a mentally healthy work environment, collaboration can be essential for building resilient and mentally healthy organizations. 


Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (For Employees and Employers)


Work makes up a major part of many Canadian adults’ lives—based on a standard 40-hour work week, nearly one-third of their waking hours are spent at work. Employment plays a huge role in our mental health, and conversely, our overall wellbeing can significantly impact our ability to perform at work. According to the [World Health Organization](https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace)\, twelve billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety\, and those two mental health conditions alone cost the global economy $1 trillion (USD) each year due to reduced productivity.
It’s an employers’ role to create the conditions for psychologically safe environments—the culture, policies, pay and workload. Large or small, every workplace has an ability to implement workplace strategies for mental health

Employees also play a crucial role in their own wellbeing at work and the wellbeing of those around them. Workplaces, after all, are made of their employees—individual humans coming together to work on a common goal.

Given this dual role employees and employers can play when it comes to fostering a mentally healthy work environment, collaboration can be essential for building resilient and mentally healthy organizations.


The Role of Workplaces in Mental Health



Work is a place of communication and human relationships, where value is measured and rewarded. Employees are expected to drive the overall success of the companies they work for.

That kind of performance environment can inspire a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and a strong sense of self and purpose, all of which are important characteristics of healthy mental wellbeing. However, it can also result in unmet expectations, disappointments, challenges and failures.

In many ways, work can have either a positive or a negative impact depending on the circumstances.

For example, in recent years, workplace stress and burnout have become front and centre for mental health. Stress, in some cases, is not necessarily a bad thing; growth, learning and positive change can create some level of stress and strain. Some over-achievers may enjoy the pressure, and feeling of productivity.

Workplace burnout, on the other hand, is characterized by emotional, physical and mental exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress.
Other examples of the way workplaces can positively or negatively impact wellbeing include:


Job demands


  • Positive influence: Meaningful work, manageable workloads, and opportunities for growth with systems to help with that change (and strain) can promote supportive and functional work environments.
  • Negative influence: Unrealistic expectations or lack of clarity on expectations, lack of recognition and reward, long hours and inability to rest, and limited or limiting opportunities for progression can create environments of high stress.

Workplace culture and relationships


  • Positive influence: Inclusive and supportive environments create a sense of camaraderie, connection, social support and acceptance, as can commonly held values and vision, teamwork and shared accomplishments.
  • Negative influence: Conflict, poor communication, toxic competitiveness, sexism and racism, and lack of trust or credibility can contribute to psychologically unhealthy work environments.

Leadership and management


  • Positive influence: Focused and experienced leadership who demonstrate authenticity and competence through open communication, transparency and empathy will promote trust and confidence across an organization.
  • Negative influence: Ineffective management styles that lack problem-solving or strategic guidance, poor communication, and limited emotional capacity can set the tone for a negative work environment that promotes burnout.


Policies and procedures

  • Positive influence: Clear guidelines around flexible work, governance to promote reasonable working hours, overtime, pay increases, flexible parental leave and workload expectations can support a healthy work-life balance and job satisfaction.
  • Negative influence: Lack of flexibility, rigid procedures, and strict and unreasonable workplace rules can stifle creativity, create a culture of fear and blame, and increase stress and dissatisfaction.

There are a number of workplace strategies for mental health that employers can consider to foster a mentally healthy workplace.


  1. Building a culture of respect and empathy (starting with leadership)

Promoting a positive culture can be driven by workplace policies, clear performance expectations and recognition, leadership and employee training, and by the behaviour and habits of leaders. It’s a multifaceted topic that requires deep thinking, consistent and ongoing effort, and continuous attention.


Strategies could include:


  • Leadership performance tied to building psychological safety in their corporate culture
  • Health benefits programs, adequate equipment and workspaces, and other resources
  • Adequate policies protecting staff against mistreatment, harassment or abuse (and execution of those policies) as well as safe and confidential modes of reporting issues
  • Adequate policies that promote and set expectations for diversity, inclusion, equity and respect
  • Skills training and development opportunities, including mental health education
  1. Facilitating work-life balance

Employers can help facilitate work-life balance by proactively monitoring workload, staffing projects adequately, setting clear expectations and success metrics, and promoting break and rest time.

Strategies could include:


  • Flexible hours or remote work arrangements
  • Offering an adjusted work week, such as the four-day work week
  • Establishing policies that clearly define work vs. personal time
  • Discouraging work during vacation or weekend time
  • Cross-training to allow for team coverage during time off
  • Providing adequate sick days and discouraging work through illness
  • Training around effective time management, people management, and stress reduction
  • Offering dedicated time off after particularly busy periods of work
  • Avoiding‘Zoom fatigue’by giving people freedom to turn off their camera
    *
  1. Accessible mental health resources

Generally, therapy in Canada is not covered by provincial healthcare plans. Providing comprehensive mental health coverage in employee insurance plans—and investing time and effort into ensuring people know about it—makes mental health wellbeing more accessible to employees. Mental health packages are also more flexible than ever—companies can offer plans that best suit their peoples’ needs. 

Strategies could include:


  • Ensuring there is comprehensive mental health coverage in workplace benefits plans
  • Choosing flexible plans that allow employees to choose their plan based on customizable spending categories
  • Extending mental healthcare packages to employees’ families, including options like flexible sick days or child care options
  • Investing in digital health apps
  • Clearly and consistently communicating available resource to staff and making it easy for them to access relevant information and instructions


Written by Rosa Park from FS - First Session. For full article refer to First Session.

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Mental Health in the Workplace: Why Support Is So Important

Last updated 29 days ago

It’s an employers’ role to create the conditions for psychologically safe environments—the culture, policies, pay and workload. Large or small, every workplace has an ability to implement workplace strategies for mental health

Employees also play a crucial role in their own wellbeing at work and the wellbeing of those around them. Workplaces, after all, are made of their employees—individual humans coming together to work on a common goal. 

Given this dual role employees and employers can play when it comes to fostering a mentally healthy work environment, collaboration can be essential for building resilient and mentally healthy organizations. 


Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (For Employees and Employers)


Work makes up a major part of many Canadian adults’ lives—based on a standard 40-hour work week, nearly one-third of their waking hours are spent at work. Employment plays a huge role in our mental health, and conversely, our overall wellbeing can significantly impact our ability to perform at work. According to the [World Health Organization](https://www.who.int/teams/mental-health-and-substance-use/promotion-prevention/mental-health-in-the-workplace)\, twelve billion working days are lost every year to depression and anxiety\, and those two mental health conditions alone cost the global economy $1 trillion (USD) each year due to reduced productivity.
It’s an employers’ role to create the conditions for psychologically safe environments—the culture, policies, pay and workload. Large or small, every workplace has an ability to implement workplace strategies for mental health

Employees also play a crucial role in their own wellbeing at work and the wellbeing of those around them. Workplaces, after all, are made of their employees—individual humans coming together to work on a common goal.

Given this dual role employees and employers can play when it comes to fostering a mentally healthy work environment, collaboration can be essential for building resilient and mentally healthy organizations.


The Role of Workplaces in Mental Health



Work is a place of communication and human relationships, where value is measured and rewarded. Employees are expected to drive the overall success of the companies they work for.

That kind of performance environment can inspire a sense of accomplishment, confidence, and a strong sense of self and purpose, all of which are important characteristics of healthy mental wellbeing. However, it can also result in unmet expectations, disappointments, challenges and failures.

In many ways, work can have either a positive or a negative impact depending on the circumstances.

For example, in recent years, workplace stress and burnout have become front and centre for mental health. Stress, in some cases, is not necessarily a bad thing; growth, learning and positive change can create some level of stress and strain. Some over-achievers may enjoy the pressure, and feeling of productivity.

Workplace burnout, on the other hand, is characterized by emotional, physical and mental exhaustion as a result of prolonged stress.
Other examples of the way workplaces can positively or negatively impact wellbeing include:


Job demands


  • Positive influence: Meaningful work, manageable workloads, and opportunities for growth with systems to help with that change (and strain) can promote supportive and functional work environments.
  • Negative influence: Unrealistic expectations or lack of clarity on expectations, lack of recognition and reward, long hours and inability to rest, and limited or limiting opportunities for progression can create environments of high stress.

Workplace culture and relationships


  • Positive influence: Inclusive and supportive environments create a sense of camaraderie, connection, social support and acceptance, as can commonly held values and vision, teamwork and shared accomplishments.
  • Negative influence: Conflict, poor communication, toxic competitiveness, sexism and racism, and lack of trust or credibility can contribute to psychologically unhealthy work environments.

Leadership and management


  • Positive influence: Focused and experienced leadership who demonstrate authenticity and competence through open communication, transparency and empathy will promote trust and confidence across an organization.
  • Negative influence: Ineffective management styles that lack problem-solving or strategic guidance, poor communication, and limited emotional capacity can set the tone for a negative work environment that promotes burnout.


Policies and procedures

  • Positive influence: Clear guidelines around flexible work, governance to promote reasonable working hours, overtime, pay increases, flexible parental leave and workload expectations can support a healthy work-life balance and job satisfaction.
  • Negative influence: Lack of flexibility, rigid procedures, and strict and unreasonable workplace rules can stifle creativity, create a culture of fear and blame, and increase stress and dissatisfaction.

There are a number of workplace strategies for mental health that employers can consider to foster a mentally healthy workplace.


  1. Building a culture of respect and empathy (starting with leadership)

Promoting a positive culture can be driven by workplace policies, clear performance expectations and recognition, leadership and employee training, and by the behaviour and habits of leaders. It’s a multifaceted topic that requires deep thinking, consistent and ongoing effort, and continuous attention.


Strategies could include:


  • Leadership performance tied to building psychological safety in their corporate culture
  • Health benefits programs, adequate equipment and workspaces, and other resources
  • Adequate policies protecting staff against mistreatment, harassment or abuse (and execution of those policies) as well as safe and confidential modes of reporting issues
  • Adequate policies that promote and set expectations for diversity, inclusion, equity and respect
  • Skills training and development opportunities, including mental health education
  1. Facilitating work-life balance

Employers can help facilitate work-life balance by proactively monitoring workload, staffing projects adequately, setting clear expectations and success metrics, and promoting break and rest time.

Strategies could include:


  • Flexible hours or remote work arrangements
  • Offering an adjusted work week, such as the four-day work week
  • Establishing policies that clearly define work vs. personal time
  • Discouraging work during vacation or weekend time
  • Cross-training to allow for team coverage during time off
  • Providing adequate sick days and discouraging work through illness
  • Training around effective time management, people management, and stress reduction
  • Offering dedicated time off after particularly busy periods of work
  • Avoiding‘Zoom fatigue’by giving people freedom to turn off their camera
    *
  1. Accessible mental health resources

Generally, therapy in Canada is not covered by provincial healthcare plans. Providing comprehensive mental health coverage in employee insurance plans—and investing time and effort into ensuring people know about it—makes mental health wellbeing more accessible to employees. Mental health packages are also more flexible than ever—companies can offer plans that best suit their peoples’ needs. 

Strategies could include:


  • Ensuring there is comprehensive mental health coverage in workplace benefits plans
  • Choosing flexible plans that allow employees to choose their plan based on customizable spending categories
  • Extending mental healthcare packages to employees’ families, including options like flexible sick days or child care options
  • Investing in digital health apps
  • Clearly and consistently communicating available resource to staff and making it easy for them to access relevant information and instructions


Written by Rosa Park from FS - First Session. For full article refer to First Session.