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November 2018 Newsletter
In This Issue
  • Thanks for Joining Us!
  • The Workplace Mental Health, Physical Health and Stigma Experience of the survey population
  • What are Mental Illnesses?
  • What are My Responsibilities as an Employer?
  • Quick Reference: Why Workplace Mental Health Matters
  • Video Panel Discussion: Employee Mental Health in the Workplace (The Agenda)
  • Quick Reference: Employer Tools for Preventing and Addressing Mental Health Issues
  • Quick Reference: Top Eight Practices to Build a Supportive Work Environment
  • Quick Reference: Five Mental Wellness Tips
  • Coach's Corner: How Can I Help a Co-Worker Who is Dealing With a Mental Illness?
  • A Mental Health Continuum Model
  • What Can Managers Do?
November 2018
Volume 5, Number 11

Thanks for Joining Us!

November has arrived, and as we commemorate the 100th Anniversary of the Great War, we remember the sacrifice of those who served, those who never returned, and those who returned but carried the traumatic reminders all their lives.
While most of us thankfully have never seen the horrors of combat or war, most of us experience difficult times in our lives. In fact, according to the Canadian Mental Health Association in any given year, one in five people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness; by age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness. When the dollars and cents are broken down, the economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life.

In light of these serious statistics, this month we are focussing on mental health in the workplace, offering an understanding of what mental illness is, what the responsibilities of employers include, and strategies to help maintain a productive, healthy workplace.

Keep reading for more learning!

Below is a snapshot of statistics that offers great insight into instances of mental health issues and the impact they have on employees. The statistics are the result of a study undertaken by The Globe and Mail and Morneau Shepell. Regardless of the size of your organization, as a leader, it is important to understand that mental health wellness is critical for all employees and that it's up to you to eliminate any stigma associated.
What are Mental Illnesses?
Mental illnesses are health problems that affect the way we think about ourselves, relate to others, and interact with the world around us. They affect our thoughts, feelings, abilities, and behaviours. Depression and anxiety disorders are the most common mental illnesses.

Mental illnesses are more likely to come up during times of stress or uncertainty, which can be part of many people’s jobs. However, life stress outside of work can also affect mental health, which may then affect a person at work.

It’s important to understand that mental illnesses are real illnesses. Like other illnesses, such as diabetes or asthma, most mental illnesses are episodic. That means people have periods when they are well and productive, as well as periods when they are unwell and overall functioning is low.

Source: The Canadian Mental Health Association
What are My Responsibilities as an Employer?
Because employers control the workplace, they are responsible for protecting employee health and safety, including mental health. This requires managers to take steps to protect employees from preventable risks. Their responsibilities include:
  • Following good management practices to promote good health and well-being;
  • Remaining aware of safe work practices;
  • Recognizing that informing employees of safe work practices is critical to reducing the risk of illness or injury;
  • Looking and listening for signs of emotional stress or physical discomfort in employees;
  • Creating a work environment that supports employee well-being and performance, and enabling employees to get help if there are signs of a possible health problem; and
  • Communicating management's concern and support for their employees' health and well-being.
When it comes to mental illness and problem substance use in the workplace, employers and employees have both rights and responsibilities. The Canadian Human Rights Act (the Act) prohibits discrimination in employment on a number of grounds, including disability. The Act considers both mental illness and drug and alcohol dependence as disabilities. Under the Act, employers have two main responsibilities toward employees and people who apply for employment.

First, employers must not discriminate on the basis of a disability or a perceived disability.

Second, the Act requires that employers do everything they can to accommodate an employee with a disability. 
How the Workplace Can Impact Mental Health
Given that we spend half of our waking hours at work, our experience in the workplace is unsurprisingly one of the most influential factors to our mental health.

The workplace presents many risk factors for employee mental health including:
  • insufficient health and safety policies;
  • poor leadership and communication;
  • low participation in decision-making;
  • limited control over one’s work space;
  • lack of emotional support for employees;
  • long and/or inflexible working hours;
  • ambiguous roles, tasks and objectives, and;
  • workload (both excessive and insufficient).
Then there are also additional risk factors, such as;
  • monotonous and/or unpleasant tasks;
  • lack of respect and recognition at work;
  • inequity and favouritism in the workplace;
  • poor interpersonal bonds/team cohesion;
  • bullying (both physical and psychological);
  • harassment (of all types), and;
  • clashing of home and work demands.
Do you recognize any of these in your organization? Consider undertaking a complete analysis to address the issues.

Coach's Corner: How Can I Help a Co-Worker Who is Dealing With a Mental Illness?

Different mental illnesses have different symptoms, and people experience the same mental illness in very different ways. Some people may hide their symptoms, and some people may work well despite symptoms. If you’ve noticed changes and are concerned about a co-worker, it’s best to express concern without making assumptions.

If a co-worker is experiencing a mental illness, it’s best to let them decide what and how much they tell others in the workplace. However, you can still offer support. Let your co-worker know that you’re there to listen without judgement, and make your co-worker feel like they’re still part of the team. Here are more tips for supporting a co-worker:
  • Ask how you can help—and respect your co-worker’s wishes.
  • Continue to include your co-worker in the workplace’s usual activities.
  • Depending on your relationship, you can still keep in touch with a co-worker who takes time off.
  • When a co-worker returns to work after time off due to a mental illness, make them feel welcome and appreciated. Saying nothing because you’re worried about saying the wrong thing can make your co-worker feel worse.
  • Advocate for healthy workplaces. Many wellness strategies are low-cost or no-cost, but they can still improve everyone’s well-being and build inclusive spaces. 

Quick Reference: Why Workplace Mental Health Matters

Mental health is an issue that impacts every workplace in Canada. The workplace can contribute positively or negatively to a person’s mental health.

Employers and employees both benefit from a psychologically healthy workplace:

Better employee
  • engagement
  • morale
  • satisfaction
  • retention and recruitment
  • productivity
  • absenteeism
  • grievances
  • health costs
  • medical leave/disability
  • workplace injuries
Video Panel Discussion: Employee Mental Health in the Workplace. The Agenda.
Quick Reference: Employer Tools for Preventing and Addressing Workplace Mental Health Issues
The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety (CCOHS) has developed Healthy Minds@Work, a hub of tools and resources to support workplace parties in their efforts to address psychological health and safety in the workplace.

Other tools and resources are also available:

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard)

Mental Health First Aid, developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, aims to improve mental health literacy and provide the skills and knowledge to help people better manage potential or developing mental health problems in themselves, a family member, a friend or a colleague

Quick Reference: Top Eight Practices to Build a Supportive Work Environment

Building a supportive work environment that promotes mental well-being has benefits for everyone and keeps your workforce strong and competitive. Here are 8 practices to help achieve success:

1. Encourage employee participation and decision-making
2. Clearly define employees' duties and responsibilities
3. Promote work-life balance
4. Encourage and model respectful behaviours
5. Manage workloads
6. Provide training and learning opportunities
7. Have conflict resolution practices in place
8. Recognize employees' contributions effectively
Quick Reference: Five Mental Wellness Tips

1. Eat regular meals even if you have very little appetite. 
2. Exercise  and get moving. 
3. Sleep and ensure that you keep regular hours as much as possible.
4. Get involved in your community and try not to isolate yourself.
5. Nurture yourself and take regular time-outs to recharge your batteries.
A Mental Health Continuum Model
This diagram describes the range of mental health—healthy, reacting, injured and ill—and lists the behaviours associated with each part of this range.
What Can Managers Do?
This diagram describes the range of mental health—healthy, reacting, injured and ill—and gives examples of what managers can do for employees who are experiencing characteristics within each part of that range.
Source: Government of Canada
Understanding and supporting mental health and mental wellness programs requires knowledge, sensitivity, and training.

Contact Wendy Ellen Inc. for assistance today!
About Wendy Ellen Inc.
Wendy Ellen Inc. specializes in providing human resource and benefits management skills to small to mid-sized companies on an as-needed basis. From recruitment, Human Resource policy development and legislative compliance, employee retention and engagement, individual advisor/coaching, succession planning to employee development and performance, Wendy Ellen Inc. will help you protect your most valuable resource, your people.
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