While employee benefits are an important part of supporting mental health, these programs must be supported by a workplace culture that encourages mental well-being, said Joe Ricciuti, co-founder and chair of Mental Health International during a webinar hosted by MHI and the Ontario Brain Institute.

“Obviously, they go hand in hand, but if you think about it, it’s not even a chicken-or-the-egg question — if you have a good culture within the organization, it will speak to finding the necessary support that’s required to ensure the health and productivity of the working populations.”

A new report from MHI proposed the creation of a roundtable to improve mental well-being in Canada, including the establishment of psychologically safe workplaces and educating employers on the root causes of mental disorders. It also noted employers and employees stand to benefit from re-purposing investments in human capital as investments in the mental well-being and life of the working population.

Read: 78% of Ontario employers say supporting employee mental health, well-being important to company’s success

“Professionals better understand how individual work outputs impact the performance of the company, their compensation, even more so when their benefits are tied to the market value of the enterprise,” said Ricciuti. “Positive mental health and well-being are linked to many of those business outcomes, [as well as] reduced attrition, improved innovation, engagement and collaboration.”

Also speaking during the webinar, Bill Wilkerson, co-founder of MHI, said with human capital emerging as a fundamentally important asset for employers, investments in mental-health supports are increasingly important. “Brain skills equals human capital [and] investing in the way people think [will lead to] innovation as a deliverable of the mental health of employees. That’s where you’ll see the real change and the real investments going forward.”

And while he acknowledged that medication is important in treating mental-health issues, he said he believes the use of drugs must be balanced with counselling. “Drugs are obviously widely deployed, [but they] cannot be the ultimate solution or, in the years ahead, the first option.”

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