Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital is launching an anti-bullying program for its employees to mark Bell Let’s Talk Day this week.

“Within nursing and within the medical profession, there are environmental and structural mechanisms that make it very easy for people to bully one another,” says Christine Devine, a wellness specialist at the hospital. Bullying can take many forms, such as gossiping and rolling eyes, and generally includes any behaviour that doesn’t consider other employees.

Read: How to deal with workplace bullies

The hospital kicks off the program today, with senior executives publicly signing a statement of commitment to a workplace free of bullying, according to Devine. In early February, the human resources team will deliver lunch-hour sessions to each department and discuss workplace civility and how to address bullying staff witness or experience.

“A lot of people will not come forward because they’re concerned about the level of support, so we think if we can educate people to have a well-rounded understanding of the entire process and the resources available to them, they’ll be more apt to come forward,” says Devine.

Read: Why you should hire a civility coach

The anti-bullying campaign will continue through the year and, in 2018, it will include peer support groups. The peer coaches, says Devine, will be able to walk bullying victims and witnesses through the reporting and investigation process.

“If you have one bully on a team, the rest of the team’s quality of life while at work is drastically affected,” she notes. Devine also points to national statistics that suggest many short-term disability claims arise from a bullying situation. “So we’re looking at it from a big-picture impact on business and also our continued want to fully implement the national standard for psychological health and safety.”

Read: Michael Garron Hospital wins mental-health award for holistic approach

On Bell Let’s Talk Day on Jan. 25, the hospital will also host a panel discussion and patient video screening about the stigma that sometimes surrounds mental health.

“Any time we can bring an opportunity for people to express compassion and empathy for people who live with [mental-health conditions], that gives us the opportunity to look at how we treat each other as colleagues [and] as practitioner and patient,” says Devine.

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

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