Mental health issues can affect us all – regardless of our age, economic standing, race, or gender – and if we are living with a mental health issue, we know the importance of seeking help. When we consider how many of us spend hours a day at work, it is imperative that our workplace is a supportive one. There has been much said in the news lately about Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and stress-related work incidences that are leading some to ask that work related stress be covered by WSIB. Some positions have inherent stress, such as first responders. They are the first emergency person to arrive at the scene of a traumatic or medical situation, and because of their experiences on the job, first responders are at least twice as likely compared to the general population to suffer from PTSD, due to the risk of frequent exposure to traumatic stressors. Considering that it is not just first responders, but rather everyone in the workplace that are susceptible to work related stress, organizations need to have a mental health plan in place to deal with these issues and provide a supportive work environment for their employees.

Taking a preventative approach when preparing a mental health strategy should provide for better support and response for all employees, and could involve building on existing workplace programs, such as workplace harassment and bullying. A successful mental health support plan has several components:

  • It includes strategies that are integrated and inclusive of employees, their families, the WSIB, unions, and management.
  • It aims to change the organizational culture to reduce stigma.
  • It provides ongoing resiliency training, from the hiring stage to refresher training.
  • It is flexible and considers individual circumstances.
  • It is in place prior to incidents occurring, and should include regular follow-ups if workers go off work, with a plan to reintegrate workers when they return and normalize the return-to-work process.
The benefits of a mental health support plan are numerous. They include stress reduction in staff, an increase in productivity, and can reduce absences in the workplace. Accessing psychological services, such as EAP counselling, should be simple and affordable through health care benefits, as early intervention is crucial for getting workers the support they need after any type of incident.

Does your organization have a mental health support plan?  If so, does it incorporate awareness, understanding, empathy and education? WMC can help your organization develop a wellness plan that is preventative, responsive, and effective. Contact us to find out how to get started.