How to engage employees in Mental Health Week

Employers are being encouraged to engage employees in the 65th annual Mental Health Week, from May 2-8, an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health and the stigma that often accompanies it.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada, in particular, will be promoting a mentally healthy workplace through creative and fun team-building events.

“It’s an opportunity to give focus and added attention to the cause,” says Sapna Mahajan, director of prevention and promotion initiatives at the commission.

Read: Half of Toronto-area workers have faced mental-health issues: survey

“We’re telling workplaces to get involved. Tell people at your staff meetings about mental health, raise awareness and start a conversation. There’s a lot of little actions that people can do to support the week.”

According to Mahajan, employers should make sure their leaders are informed about how to support mental health in the workplace.

“When there’s a hole in the ground, [managers] think we should probably leave the workplace and notify someone,” she says. “But, if someone is having a panic attack, some managers don’t know what to do so they ignore it. So, training is a really key piece.”

Read: 57% of workplaces have no mental health strategy: survey

Mahajan says employers can prevent mental-health issues by incorporating several initiatives into their health and well-being programs. She advises managers to:

  • Raise awareness and make information about mental health available.
  • Speak openly about mental-health issues.
  • Let employees know about employee assistance programs (EAPs).
  • Inform new staff about the psychological demands of their job.
  • Help staff who are returning from a leave of absence transition smoothly back to work.
  • Implement a zero-tolerance policy on bullying and discrimination.

Which employers are leading the way in workplace mental-health support and awareness?

Read: Bell Canada launches new mental-health support programs

Read: GE Canada enters third stage of mental health strategy

Read: ArcelorMittal Dofasco reinforces focus on employee mental health

Read: Accenture hosts mental health webinar for staff

Has your organization developed a creative and effective mental-health program to support and encourage the psychological health of employees? The 2016 Workplace Benefits Awards are now open for nominations.