Mental health issues are not disappearing, but maybe the stigma that is associated with it will. That’s if Jeff Moat, president of Partners for Mental Health, has anything to say about it.

The relatively new organization is dedicated to “supercharging” the way Canadians look at mental health.

Our strategy is really to “redefine normal,” said Moat, talking to an audience of plan sponsors at an Employee Assistance Program Association of Toronto seminar earlier this week. In other words, he wants people to discuss mental health as openly as they would discuss diabetes or heart disease, for example.

In an online poll of 1,000 working Canadians conducted by Partners for Mental Health, almost half (47%) found work and their workplace a stressful part of their day, 38% said they would ignore or hide a mental illness from work, and two out of three would not have discussion with their supervisor about a mental health issue.

“We don’t have a culture to allow one to be comfortable to talk about it,” said Moat.

Partners in Mental Health is helping organizations tackle the stigma by helping to create environments that are more accepting of people with mental health issues.

In May, Partners launched the Not Myself Today campaign. This initiative provides employers with a tool kit—guidelines, an activity guide and tools (e.g., posters, banners and even an employee survey)—for employers to engage their employees and hold their own workplace Not Myself Today event. The tool kit comes with 26 different buttons, each with a different adjective (e.g., edgy, crappy, happy) to describe how people are feeling.

“The buttons,” said Moat, “are a fun, safe way to get people talking about mental health in a fun, safe and engaging environment. It’s a way to connect to people who are experiencing a mental health problem.”

To date, about 100 organizations have invested in the campaign, and it costs an employer no more than $1.50 to $2 per employee.

But this year’s participants saw the campaign as a first step only. The organizations didn’t want it to become a check box, said Moat. So Partners for Mental Health will add to its 2014 Not Myself Today campaign:

  • an expanded resource guide, which will offer accredited (mostly online) resources that employers can give to employees;
  • monthly content;
  • more mood buttons;
  • access to speakers or facilitators; and
  • the best of company best practices.

“Being aware of this issue is not enough to effect change,” Moat said. “We need to get people to take action.”

For more information, go to NotMyselfToday.ca.

Copyright © 2018 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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