We all have to work together to ensure workplaces promote mental health

October 9, 2017

October 10 is World Mental Health day, and this year unions are highlighting the work we do to promote mental health in the workplace.

This spring the Canadian Labour Congress introduced an online resource centre with tools and information for workers dealing with mental health issues at work.

“One in five people in Canada experience a mental health problem or illness every year, and in too many cases, these issues are caused or exacerbated by workplace stress,” said CLC President Hassan Yussuff.

“Canada’s unions are committed to continuing to work with the government, employers and workers to address the systemic issues that create unhealthy work environments. We have to work together to find solutions that create and maintain safe and healthy workplaces,” he said.

Yussuff added that just as unions fight to protect workers’ physical safety and well being at work, they also support a worker’s right to a psychologically safe and supportive work environment.

“You wouldn’t ask a worker with a repetitive strain injury to keep performing the action that injured them. So why would a worker be expected to continue to put their mental health at risk by subjecting themselves to unhealthy working conditions?” he asked.

The Mental Health Risk Index released by Ipsos in April this year found that the number of Canadians considered “high risk” for mental health illness increased to 41% from 35% in 2016. The risk is even higher for women, and low-income and young workers.

Several tools exist to help employers and unions ensure workplaces foster mental health. The 2013 National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, for example, provides guidelines, tools and resources for promoting mental health and preventing psychological harm at work.

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