Canada’s workplaces lack mental health strategy

Monday, February 22, 2016

Only 39 per cent of Canada’s employers have a mental health strategy in place, despite the fact that mental health is the top reason for disability leaves of absence in the country.


According to a new report, Healthy Brains At Work: Employer-Sponsored Mental Health Benefits and Programs, by The Conference Board of Canada, the majority of employers state that time and a lack of financial and human resources hinders their ability to implement such a program. Others say mental health is not an issue in their office or they lack knowledge on how to address it. Meanwhile, 23 per cent say strategies are not a legal or legislative requirement.


“While many employers have mental health initiatives in place, a majority of them often lack a proactive mental health strategy that addresses the workplace risks that could negatively impact their employees’ health and wellness,” says Louise Chénier, manager of workplace health and wellness research.

The real estate sector is among a few industries that are more likely to have implemented a strategy, partially because mental health conditions are found to be higher in service industries like education and the utilities sectors.

Meanwhile, industries like transportation and warehousing, manufacturing, construction and natural resources, which the report refers to as “traditionally male-dominated,” are less likely to have such strategies in place.

For those who have applied a plan, 72 per cent say they effectively support an employee’s mental health; however, only 56 per cent believe these programs proactively help.

The report is the second of a four-part series that explores the importance of addressing mental health and mental illness in Canadian workplaces. The Conference Board of Canada will host a one-day conference related to this issue titled Healthy Canada: Healthy Brains Across the Lifespan on March 2, 2016 in Toronto.

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