The National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace was launched a year ago by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and plans to keep improving employees’ mental health are underway.

The MHCC announced a new $1.4 million research project where it will partner with more than 25 employers to drive the uptake of the voluntary standard.

“Adopting the standard and fostering strong mental health in the workplace not only improves the lives of individual workers, but it makes solid business sense,” said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the MHCC, at a press conference in Toronto on Thursday.

Poor mental health can have a negative affect on business. It costs the economy about $50 billion annually, 70% of disability costs are attributed to mental illness, and every week about 500,000 Canadians don’t go to work because of the condition.

Workers should be considered an employer’s top priority, said Labour Minister Dr. Kellie Leitch.

“They’re your most valuable asset and if they’re producing at their best, your company’s going to be successful,” she explained. “This is a collective responsibility for us to be able to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.”

One company has fully embraced the standard and is encouraging others to follow suit.

“It is mandatory at Bell that all of our leaders have mental health training,” said George Cope, president and CEO of BCE and Bell Canada. “There is no good reason that a company could give for not adopting this standard.”

He also announced that Bell, Morneau Shepell and Queen’s University have just launched a workplace mental health training program.

The Mental Health@Work Training Program is certified by Queen’s Faculty of Health Sciences. It is in fact the first university-certified workplace mental health training that’s also aligned with the standard.

Ken Georgetti, president of the Canadian Labour Congress noted how government, labour and the private sector have come together to push for the standard and said that it’s in everyone’s best interest to promote the standard.

“Psychological health and safety is the leading cause for short- and long-term disability today in our country,” he explained. “We’ve got a long road to travel in our journey to better mental health in the workplace.”

Copyright © 2019 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on

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