The Ontario division of the Canadian Mental Health Association is providing a toolkit for employers and employees to help them navigate the complex mental-health realities of physically returning to work as the coronavirus pandemic continues.
Developed in partnership with Mental Health Works and BounceBack Ontario, the toolkit seeks to help employers create policies and procedures to support their staff. It includes guidelines to help them fold mental-health components into their safety precautions, given the anxiety felt by workers. Indeed, research conducted by the CMHA Ontario in May found 70 per cent of Ontarians believe the province is heading toward a major mental-health crisis.
“The pandemic has created new challenges for nearly everyone and we recognize a physical return to work may add to the existing stress or anxiety people are feeling at this time, which is why we created this toolkit,” said Camille Quenneville, chief executive officer of CMHA Ontario, in a press release. “Providing accommodations to help your employees during a return-to-the-workplace process doesn’t have to be complicated. Simple things like communicating well and listening to the needs of your staff can help ease concerns and help employees come back to the workplace with a positive mindset.”
The toolkit encourages employees and employers to remember that people respond to crises differently and that feelings remain in flux throughout. It highlights that anticipating returning to work is a stressor workers bodies’ have to handle. And the pandemic itself is acting as a chronic stressor, potentially causing significant harm to workers’ health.