The bleakness and winter chill coupled with post-holiday blues can make January a particularly challenging month. With that in mind, many Canadian employers are using the month to talk about mental health with their employees.

Dalhousie University is focusing its workplace wellness strategy on mental health in January. Throughout the month, the university has been hosting one-hour sessions focused on how university employees can lighten up their day and overcome burnout, as well as a half-day workshop on stress resilience and a nine-hour workshop on being positive.

Read: Why you should hire a mental-health co-ordinator

“Participation by employees is encouraged by providing a variety of times and durations and through a combination of face-to-face sessions, video conference and webinar options,” said Lindsay Dowling-Savelle, a spokesperson for Dalhousie, in an email to Benefits Canada.

Ryerson University offers regular mental-health events for students, staff and faculty, says Natalie Roach, the university’s mental-health co-ordinator.

Specifically, on Jan. 17, the university’s mental-health and well-being committee hosted its quarterly community perspectives series, focusing on the unspoken causes of burnout. The panel — composed of Tanya Demello, Ryerson’s director of human rights services; Jacqui Gingras, an associate professor in the sociology department; and Maura O’Keefe, a counsellor at the centre for student development and counselling — looked at hidden factors that contribute to burnout at individual, organizational and societal levels.

Roach says the series is meant to critically consider things that aren’t the “usual suspects” but that do impact the mental health of the Ryerson community. “Usually it’s related to one of the social determinants of health, so rather than having a solely individual health-based perspective, how can we look at more cultural, societal, institutional impacts to our mental health and well-being.”

Read: How employees cope more impactful than the stress they’re under: report

In addition, staff and faculty can attend mindfulness meditation sessions every Tuesday at noon, hosted by Donald Eckler from the Shambhala Meditation Centre of Toronto. The university’s workplace well-being services department also hosts a monthly lunch-and-learn series focused on developing self-care skills. This month’s lunch, taking place on Jan. 30, will focus on “being intentional about creating the feelings you want in your life,” says Roach.

“I know that [January] is a month that people tend to experience a dip, not related to a formal diagnosis, but it does tend to be a harder month for people, so [scheduling] that was strategic.”

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

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