For Mental Health Week, Promoting Workplace Mental Health

May 7, 2014

This week, May 5-11, is National Mental Health Week.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association:

Mental health is key to our well-being. We can’t be truly healthy without it. It involves how we feel, think, act, and interact with the world around us. Mental health is about realizing our potential, coping with the normal stresses of life, and making a contribution to our community.

Good mental health isn’t about avoiding problems or trying to achieve a ‘perfect’ life. It’s about living well and feeling capable despite challenges. Mental well-being is bigger than the presence or absence of a mental illness. People who live with a mental illness can and do thrive, just as people without a mental illness may experience poor mental health.

At the Canadian Labour Congress Convention today in Montreal, delegates unaimously passed the following resolution, which highlights the labour movement’s role in promoting mental health in workplaces in particular:

The Canadian Labour Congress (CLC) will:

a) lobby the federal government to act on the recommendations of the Mental Health Commission of Canada and provide the necessary funding to the provinces to implement these recommendations and

b) work with affiliates, provincial and territorial federations of labour and other allies to ensure that all provinces and territories;

  • adopt the recommendation to increase the share of health spending that goes to mental health from 7% to 9% (approximately $2.8 billion over 10 years);
  • restore, enhance and expand health care services (both facility- and community-based) for people living with mental health and addictino problems;
  • provide increased programs and support for offenders with mental health and serious addiction problems;
  • promote and monitor the implementation of the National Standard of Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace and enforce workload control to be within the standards of workload management;
  • develop a strategy on mental health awareness in the workplace highlighting prevention, respectful representation and challenging stigma; and
  • develop educational material to ensure that union members are educated, equipped and empowered to deal with mental health issues in the workplace.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health disorder in their lifetimes. We may not experience a mental illness ourselves, but it’s very likely that a family member, friend, or co-worker will experience challenges.

Mental illness can take a toll on our personal lives and our work lives. In the workplace, stigma accounts for a big part of the problem. Partners for Mental Health is a charity focused on raising awareness about mental health in the context of work and erasing the stigma. Check out their Not Myself Today campaign for more information.

Many of MoveUP ‘s collective agreement have provisions for Employee & Family Assistance Plans which can provide counselling and referral to other services. Additionally, we train Union Counsellors in partnership with the United Way to be a resource for their colleagues in the workplace. These resources and supports are here to be used. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.