A conversation with Marie-Josée Boivin, vice-president of human resources, Bell Canada

» Describe the manager training component of your mental health program.

We have three modules. Module 1 was launched three years ago, and so far, we have 6,800 of our people who have been trained through that. We recently launched Module 2. Module 1 was about explaining mental health [and] anti-stigma, helping leaders identify early signs, helping leaders know how to react when somebody leaves on sick leave for mental health reasons and so on.

Module 2 is way more practical. For example, one of the recommendations in Module 1 was, if your employee is on sick leave, don’t be afraid to call them up — to follow up, to reach out to them. Module 2 will go way deeper: when you have that conversation with your employee, here are the key sentences; [here’s] how to conduct such a conversation. Then you will have role play.

Once they’ve completed Module 2, people can do Module 3, which is even more practical. People who take the three modules will get an official certification in mental health training. Modules 1 and 2 are actually mandatory for every single person in the corporation — from the CEO to front-line leaders.

» Why did you decide to train managers as part of your mental health program?

Because they are the frontline people. So they are the ones that interact day to day with their employees, that have to manage teams, that have some sort of influence. So this was kind of a proactive view that if you train your leader to understand the problems, to understand how to react, it’s going to influence the whole culture within the organization.

» How do you know your manager training is working?

We’re able to see an improvement in terms of the number of people who go on leave of absence and [come] back to the office. People tend to come back way earlier because there is an openness and awareness on how you accommodate somebody who’s ready to come back to the office. [And] we definitely see some evidence in terms of the decrease in the number of people going on sick leave.

» What’s your advice on introducing a mental health program?

How do you like your coffee?Solo Venti Latte

One of the first things we did when we started our journey back in 2010 was to really look at our benefits program: our return-to-work program, improving access to healthcare coverage and all that. It’s often interesting how many resources you have internally that you don’t necessarily leverage. [Also,] there’s the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. That’s a very good base.

» What’s your personal mental health rule?

I have a job, a husband, a kid and all that. To be able to manage multiple [roles], take time for yourself, take time to reflect. Find time in your day to get out of the brouhaha and the frantic mode. Having a very supportive spouse is the other thing, in my case. [And] exercise.

Yaldaz Sadakova is associate editor of Benefits Canada.

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Find resources on mental health here.

Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. This article first appeared in Benefits Canada.

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Rey Carr:

What is Module 3? Would you consider modifying Module 2 to include a peer training component where managers train employees to act as peer referral agents for each other with regards to a variety of mental health issues and concerns?

Monday, May 04 at 4:53 pm | Reply

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