A new study conducted by Mental Health Works, a program of the Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario (CMHA Ontario), and Dr. Carolyn Dewa, a researcher with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, explores the challenges and solutions to implementing workplace mental health promotion strategies in Canadian small and medium-sized businesses.
The study combined a literature review with a needs assessment survey and seven key informant interviews, within the information and communication sectors. The needs assessment survey and the interviews supported the evidence in the literature review. The study presented background information on the need for data collection, project findings on the literature review, barriers and solutions as identified in the survey and interview findings, and a list of recommendations.
Findings uncovered that businesses want quick and easy access to information on mental health promotion. Barriers to transferring knowledge to businesses include: a lack of knowledge that such programs exist, how to begin such a process, and the belief that an employee’s mental health is not their concern.
The survey reinforced the need to find solutions. While 63 per cent of employers noted increased stress among their employees, and 64 per cent of employers share health information through emails, 64 per cent also believe that mental health information is not relevant to their organization. Where resources and tools are in place, it is only to comply with existing legislation, and 52 per cent do not have policies that go beyond occupational health and safety measures. Only 10 per cent have any policies related to mental health, and only 17 per cent offer workplace accommodations.
Recommendations include the need to:
- Fund a national awareness campaign targeted at all businesses which would address the value of mental health promotion
- Make a business case for mental health promotion as a return on investment.
- Create tools and resources (to expand on the workplace mental health promotion guide already done by Mental Health Works)
See “Workplace Mental Health Promotion in Small and Medium-sized Enterprises in Canada” available at www.mentalhealthworks.ca.