The Mental Health Commission of Canada and HealthCareCAN are working together to explore how psychologically healthy healthcare workplaces are essential to patients’ health.

The work is part of a three-year case study that follows how more than 40 health-care organizations are implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. 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.

Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences is one of the organizations taking part in the study. It implemented a psychological health index, taking 13 psychosocial factors in the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s standard and identifying relevant questions for an employee opinion survey.

“We want to promote the health of our employees so they can be the best in delivering the care their patients need,” says Dr. Barbara Mildon, chief nurse executive at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences, and the vice-president for practice, human resources and research at the Centre for Education and Organization Development.

Read: Bruce Telecom highlights mental-health week with daily initiatives

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada and HealthCareCAN, health-care workers are 1.5 times more likely than employees in all other sectors to miss work due to illness or disability. More than 40 per cent of physicians say they are in advanced stages of burnout. Overall, one in three workplace disability claims and 70 per cent of disability costs are now related to mental illness, overtaking lower back pain and other soft tissue causes for disability.

Supporting the mental health of healthcare workers is the topic of a panel hosted today at the National Health Leadership Conference in Ottawa. “Stigma, stress, anxiety, depression and burnout are common workplace-related conditions in health care,” says Bill Tholl, president and chief executive officer of HealthCareCAN.

Read: City of Ottawa engages staff in Mental Health Week

“Health-care workers tend to feel like they’re invincible. So many others depend on them for care that they can neglect their own well-being, or fail to recognize that they sometimes need help too.”

Despite societal progress around de-stigmatizing mental-health issues, Tholl says that health-care workers themselves often feel that stigma. “Sad, but true,” agrees Mildon. She says health-care workers are used to treating illnesses based on what they can see and learn in tests. However, mental health is much trickier to diagnose. So even in health care, says Mildon, “there’s a perception that mental health isn’t as urgent as physical illness.”

Tholl is pleased to see that “increasing access to mental health will be one of basic building blocks of a new Health Accord. We are prepared to work with government to level the playing field between mental health and physical health.”

Read: How to address workplace absenteeism


Copyright © 2020 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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