Employers can use Bell Let’s Talk Day to normalize talking about mental health and reflect on whether they’re ‘walking the talk,’ says Janet Candido, founder and principal at Candido Consulting Group.

“Some employers I work with say, ‘Mental health is important to us,’ but then you might see the executive team rolling their eyes when they hear someone’s taking a mental-health break. That doesn’t add up, so [everyone at the company] needs to take mental health seriously.”

The executive team can set an example by taking a mental-health day off when they need it, so they’re demonstrating to employees that it’s okay to focus on their mental health.

Read: Bell Let’s Talk Day: More mental-health support needed in the workplace

She notes there’s a generational gap when it comes to mental health and acceptance in the workplace. “You have the older generation that still sees it as a badge of honour to come into the office when you’re very ill. But the younger generation has normalized mental health to the degree they’re not afraid to tell you they need a break or they’re taking mental-health days. A company that’s looking to attract and retain younger workers has to pay attention to the things that are important to them.”

According to a 2023 survey by EY, more than half (55 per cent) of Canadian employees said they previously left a job because the company didn’t value their well-being, a percentage that increased to 65 per cent among generation Z employees. Nearly two-fifths (38 per cent) of employees felt their personal needs and well-being weren’t being prioritized at work and 31 per cent said their company doesn’t focus on fostering a sense of belonging.

For Bell Let’s Talk Day, employers can also focus on manager training because it’s a crucial part of the puzzle, says Candido. “I think many managers feel stuck in the middle with an employer that still sees mental health as an excuse and employees who are demanding their mental health be acknowledged. So they need proper training on how to talk to employees, how to help them access the resources they need and how to advocate for them with the senior leadership team.”

Beyond this, she notes employers can provide more access to mental-health resources and be flexible with offering employees the appropriate time off to take care of their mental health.

Read: Expert panel: Employers taking preventative, holistic approach to employee mental health in 2024