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The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) applauds the new, higher standard for workplace mental health promotion and protection

January 16, 2013

CMHA to play an important role in helping workplaces implement new Standard
Toronto, January 16, 2013 – Today, Canada takes an important step for mental health as the Canadian Standards Association (CSA) and the Bureau de Normalisation du Quebec (BNQ) release the country’s first-ever national workplace Standard, The National Standard of Canada – Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace – Prevention, promotion and guidance to staged implementation. CMHA applauds the release of the Standard, which defines and sets a higher standard for workplace mental health.

“The new national workplace Standard is for all Canadian workers. While voluntary, employers will quickly realize its value in maintaining and improving mental health and preventing harm for all people in the workplace, whether or not they have had a mental illness,” says Peter Coleridge, National CEO, CMHA. “The Standard provides employers with a framework on how to foster psychologically safe and healthy work environments in which all workers can flourish.”

“Greater emphasis and awareness in the area of psychological health and safety and better employee support will also help to reduce the stigma and discrimination associated with having a mental illness in the workplace,” adds Coleridge.

For over 10 years, CMHA has been actively supporting and encouraging a change in the way mental health and mental illness are viewed and addressed in the workplace through initiatives such as CMHA’s award-winning Mental Health Works program.

The new Standard will support this work and the efforts of other mental health organizations.

Workplaces are an important contributor to personal mental well-being. Yet workplace stress continues to increase and employees are reporting that they are experiencing both physical and psychological effects of these increased pressures.  A 2012 Conference Board of Canada survey found that forty-four per cent of employees reported experiencing mental health issues. This has an effect on families, communities and society as a whole.

“Given the essential role workplaces play in maintaining positive mental health, psychological health and safety should be given the same importance as maintaining a physically healthy and safe workplace”, explains Coleridge.”While the Standard is an important step, more will need to be done to encourage and support employers to move toward implementing the standard.”

Research has shown that organizations that implement psychologically healthy and safe workplace strategies are, on average, better performers in all key performance categories from health and safety to key human resource measures to shareholder returns.

However, according to the Conference Board survey, a majority of managers say that while they are informed about mental health issues, most feel ill equipped to help employees manage mental health problems.

CMHA will support Canadian organizations with the implementation of the new Standard and help make it a workplace reality through training and consultation services.

“CMHA is already in the business of supporting workplace mental health. Helping organizations implement the new standard is a natural evolution of what we already do,” says Kathy Jurgens, Program Manager, Mental Health Works.

CMHA’s annual Bottom Line Conference, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with a first-ever nation-wide conference, will focus on practical ways to implement the standard and create psychologically healthy workplaces. Celebrating a New Era in Workplace Mental Health: Putting National Standards into Practice takes place February 27-28 in Vancouver, with a satellite conference  in Calgary.

About the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA)

Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is one of Canada’s oldest not-for-profit organizations.  With more than 10,000 staff and volunteers in hundreds of communities across Canada, CMHA provides vital services and support to well over half a million Canadians every year. As the nation-wide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience and support recovery from mental illness. For mental health and mental illness information, resources and tools and to find a CMHA community location, please go to www.cmha.ca.

For further information, please contact:

Carolyn Lovas
Senior Communications and Media Advisor, CMHA National
clovas@cmha.ca
(416) 979-7948

Download a printable version of this release.

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