It is more than just signing the cheques or paying

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of developing a sustained and effective strategy. It is more than just signing the cheques or paying the bills. Senior leaders’ commitment and agreement to be role models, communicate the priority of mental health within the organization, and regularly participate in initiatives are all elements that demonstrate senior leadership buy in and support. Employees evaluate action, not words. If you can’t observe it, define it or measure it; you are guessing : Mental health in the workplace is a behavioural issue. There are behaviours that can be implemented by both employer and employee to mitigate the negative impact of mental health problems or illnesses on employees and organizational results. Therefore, we recommend organizations start with 40 Smetanin, P., Stiff, D., Briante, C., Adair, C., Ahmad, S. & Khan, M. (2011 ). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada.
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27 capturing a baseline of where they are today. The Total Health Index (THI) 42 , developed by Dr. Bill Howatt, was created to measure employee perceptions (e.g., 13 psychological health and safety factors, respectful workplace, stress load) as well as the habits and skills that predict the average e mployee’s total health. The benefit of this tool is both the employee and employer get a report they can action in support of a two-way accountability framework. We believe that both play a role in promoting and creating mental health in the workplace. Embed vs. Silo: A key part of developing a sustainable mental health strategy is incorporating it into the organization’s human resource strategy. For optimal impact it is beneficial to focus on the whole individual or total health (i.e., physical, mental workplace, and life health) and not just mental health. This holistic approach can help foster joint responsibility and provide evidence for how health and the workplace are connected. As well, it can reduce stigma, as most employees can relate to physical (e.g., sleep) and financial health as a challenge, which if not optimal can result in stress that can negatively impact mental health. An employee’s total health can impact their resiliency levels 43 and energy that can influence their overall perceived and experienced health, engagement and productivity, and in turn improve organizational effectiveness. Create a caring culture : To help employees feel comfortable accessing help early (i.e., before small issues turn into big ones), employees need to feel safe and develop trust in their employer. Culture is shaped by the collective beliefs and behaviours of an organization’s workforce 44 . Leaders create the tone for how committed the organization is to supporting people who experience a mental health challenge in the workplace. Creating a caring culture begins by encouraging open conversation on mental health, reducing stigma, and educating and informing employees and leaders about what mental health is and is not. It is our belief that mental health problems and illnesses are not a sign of weakness; but rather they can occur from a wide range of factors (e.g., stress buildup, life events). Mental health challenges however are
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  • Fall '19
  • mental health, Mental Health Commission of Canada, Mental Health Experience

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