Health and Safety Advice for Supporting Employees Through Mental Health

  • Workplace Health & Safety
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Peninsula Team, Peninsula Team

(Last updated )

Over the past decade, the topic of mental health has grown significantly—and social media can take much of the credit. The opportunity for people to connect across all corners of the globe, after all, has certainly helped spread awareness. Just a few weeks ago, the ninth annual Bell Let’s Talk national campaign came to a head with a related message. The company reports that 87% of Canadians believe they now know more about mental health since 2010.

Human rights issue

The Human Rights Code aligns with mental health awareness by protecting sufferers from adverse treatment and prohibiting employee termination for a related reason. While compliance requires accommodating employees though, an employer who manages to demonstrate “undue hardship” with an employee could possibly dismiss an otherwise protected person. Likewise, if related conflict arises between co-workers, especially producing violence or an intolerable environment, an employer could possibly demonstrate a serious safety threat. In this case, employers should seek a qualified medical professional to assess the risk and whether accommodations are possible. Although the Code protects marginalized individuals, it could make exceptions of employees who threaten workplace safety.

The millennial impact

Almost half of the workforce today is aged approximately 22 to 35 and is considered vastly different from previous generations. The reason, at least primarily, is growing up completely occupied by cell phones, tablets, laptops, apps, group chats, and more. Perhaps not coincidentally, millennials also report experiencing more issues with mental health. This includes 20% who report symptoms of depression and more than 12% who believe it impacts their work performance. Whether this generation is indeed more prone to mental health issues is unclear. Does technology add serious pressure from social media and make it difficult to disconnect when in need of a break? Or is it just more obvious because they have a platform through which to spark discussions and help squander stigmas? Either way, this has led to more recognition and acceptance. With these significant changes, it can be difficult for employers to gauge how to respond.

Mental health in the workplace

Many employees can and often do continue to work while experiencing mental health issues, with little to no impact on productivity. And like any illness, due to the severity of the condition, there are situations when the employee may not be able to work. As an employer, it is important to know how to handle situations that may arise. In the majority of cases, supportive performance management can be the key to continued productivity. Looking for more insights on mental health? Read about the 5 Best Practices to Improve Mental Health in the Workplace,

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