Progress on mental health

March 13, 2018

Progress _mental _health

In January 2018, the Joint Task Force on Mental Health released a third report, which puts forward a number of important proposals aimed at fostering positive mental health in the workplace. The joint task force includes Treasury Board and a number of public service unions, including CAPE.

Unions and employers have a long tradition of working together towards healthy and safe workplaces. But these joint health and safety committees have largely focused on tangible hazards – after all, this is what they were originally designed to address. In response, the joint task force proposes a Psychological Health and Safety Management System, which “focuses on the identification and mitigation of hazards that can affect the psychological health and safety of employees in the workplace”.

The report proposes a two-pronged definition of psychologically safe and healthy workplaces:

1) one where every reasonable effort is made to promote the mental health of employees; and 2) one that allows no significant harm to employees’ mental health in negligent, reckless or intentional ways and where every reasonable effort is made to protect the mental health of employees through harm reduction strategies based on due diligence.

Beyond setting concrete goals, the definition also helped guide the task force’s recommendations.

“Our members are passionate about the issue of mental health in the workplace,” said CAPE President Greg Phillips. “They want to see initiatives that will support members experiencing mental health issues – and they want to see preventative measures that address workplace stressors before they adversely affect their mental health.”

Members who share this passion are encouraged to look for opportunities to get involved in their department’s Psychological Health and Safety Management System. According to Treasury Board, there’s a correlation between the program’s level of success and employee participation. The PHSMS doesn’t impose a top-down approach; rather, it’s meant to be co-developed by the employer, employees and unions. The more employees participate in its development, the more likely it is to be favourably received across the workplace.

The task force’s recommendations also included the creation of a Centre of expertise on mental health in the workplace. The centre – a joint initiative between the employer and public service unions – will provide guidance and expertise to federal departments and agencies as they work to achieve new national standards on mental health in the workplace. The centre’s website also offers tools and resources aimed at helping employers and employees create healthy workplaces. 

According to Treasury Board, about half of all disability claims are related to mental health.

To find out more about the report, please click here.