Canadian employers have a new tool to protect the mental health of employees, with the launch today of Psychological Health and Safety: An Action Guide for Employers.

“The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and our partners who are working to promote mental health in Canada recognize the critical role our workplaces play in the psychological health of Canadians,” says Louise Bradley, MHCC President and CEO. “The Action Guide offers immediate actions that employers can take to enhance the positive role that the workplace has in recovery and prevention.”

Mental health problems are the leading cause of both short and long‐term disabilities in Canada, with the economic cost estimated to be $51 billion, including almost $20 billion from workplace losses.

The Action Guide, available at no cost at www.mentalhealthcommission.ca, provides a series of steps and 24 actions accessible to all Canadian employers regardless of size, sector or location. It was co-authored by Merv Gilbert, PhD, and Dan Bilsker, PhD, both from the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction at Simon Fraser University with support from MHCC’s Workforce Advisory Committee.

“We have made significant progress in addressing the impact of physical health and safety in the workplace, now we need to put a similar focus on psychological health,” says Gilbert. “Psychological health concerns have an expanding impact on the safety, productivity and effectiveness of the workplace.”

“Employers are increasingly identifying the need to promote psychologically healthy and safe workplaces but are asking, ‘what can be done?’ The Action Guide is based on the latest scientific evidence and professional practices. It provides employers with logical implementation steps and recommendations that are practical, accessible and actionable,” Bilsker says.

The Action Guide is mainly intended for employers and human resources personnel considering programs and policies to improve psychological health in their organization. It is also relevant to frontline managers, union leaders, occupational health care providers, and legal and regulatory professionals.

The Action Guide will also inform the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, a voluntary standard for workplace mental health to be released later this year by the MHCC in collaboration with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec and the CSA Standards.

The Guide was launched at an Employee Assistance Society of North America Institute in Calgary, Alberta.