Every year, during the first week of May, Mental Health Week is hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association as a time to celebrate, protect and promote mental health across Canadian communities. 

This year’s theme, #GetReal, is a call for us to embrace our emotions – even the difficult ones, as we continue to grapple with the realities of a pandemic. 

According to a 2020 survey on mental health symptoms during COVID-19

  • 1 in 5 Canadians are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder
  • 68% who reported a mental health issue reported that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic
  • 30% of disability claims are related to mental health illness

HR professionals have an important role to play in safeguarding employees and addressing mental health concerns.

In fact, creating a psychologically safe and supportive workplace is not just the right thing to do, it’s a legal, business and health imperative. 

Just from a business standpoint, lost productivity due to mental health illness cost Canadian businesses an estimated $6 billion annually. And that was before the pandemic. With the recent surge in anxiety and depression, that cost for businesses is expected to rise. 

On the other hand, organizations that champion employee well-being are far more engaged, motivated and productive. They tend to experience higher retention rates, reduced absenteeism, employee burnout and workplace injuries. 

While there’s no right way to build a psychologically safe work environment, mental health impacts for employees should be considered in the HR strategy to ensure everyone feels supported. 

Currently, only 23% of Canadians feel comfortable approaching their employer with mental health concerns so we know that there’s still room to do better. Check out some of the resources below for more information on mental health support in the workplace. 

HRPA Webinars: