Mental health – a safety issue in the workplace

Mental Health – A safety issue in the workplace

CUPE Alberta is focusing on mental health in the workplace this year with the goal to bring to light important information about mental health issues as a health and safety concern.

The Canadian Mental Health Commission championed the creation of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace which was created by the Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de normalization du Quebec (BNQ) in 2013. The standard is “a voluntary set of guidelines, tools and resources focused on promoting employees’ psychological health and preventing psychological harm due to workplace factors,” says the website.

There is also a document titled “Assembling the Pieces: An Implementation Guide to the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace”. Geared for HR Managers, senior leaders and OH&S professionals, this guide offers the tools to implementing the standard at workplaces.

The standard is not legally mandatory – it is still voluntary. However, we can begin to make inroads with our employers by letting them know that this standard exists, and that it’s something they should consider implementing. It is also information and policy that unionists can use and ask for in future bargaining.

The statistics are staggering (from the website):
• On any given week, more than 500,000 Canadians will not go to work because of mental illness.
• More than 30% of disability claims and 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental illness.
• Approximately $51 billion each year are lost to the Canadian economy because of mental illness.

Implementing the Standard into workplaces saves money – and lives.

The standard and the implementation guide are available for download free from the website