The largest network
do training and awareness have reported
it’s the conversations themselves – never
mind the initiatives or the outcomes –
that start a shift to a psychologically safer
workplace because we’re starting to talk
about the fact that we value worker mental
health,” said Baynton.
In some cases, early intervention and effective
conversations between the employee
and a manager or HR rep could mean significant
accommodations can be averted.
“A manager might discover, after having
an effective conversation with an employee,
that small changes – flex hours or
the ability to telecommute on occasion –
could ease the burden for the struggling
employee significantly,” said Hardaker.
In other cases, where formal accommodation
is the best course of action to help
the employee, an HR pro and a manager
can consult the organization’s EAP or visit
a resource such as the Workplace Strategies
for Mental Health site for solutions.
All these measures – awareness campaigns,
training, better communication
tactics – can help. In a recent Ottawa Citizen
article, Camille Quenneville, CEO of
the Canadian Mental Health Association
for Ontario, says corporations that focus
on mental health in the workplace report
of specialized job sites in Canada
1-888-562-9464 – email@example.com – www.publipac.ca
MHCC has developed a hands-on
training course called Mental Health First
Aid (MHFA). It’s a two-day long, notfor
profit course, similar to first aid but
focused on mental health.
“Just like with first aid, if you come across
someone that’s bleeding, you don’t sew them
up because you don’t know what’s causing
the bleeding,” said Mahajan. “You look at the
problem and ask yourself, will a Band-Aid
do or should I call 911 right away?” Just
as physical first aid is administered to an
injured person before medical treatment
can be obtained, MHFA is given until appropriate
treatment is found or until the
crisis is resolved.
There’s also a series of resources under
the title On the Agenda, available on
the Great West Life Assurance’s Mental
Health Works site, covering such training
topics as psychological support, civility
and respect and workload management.
The courses, says Mahajan, go a long
way to breaking down barriers and getting
people to speak more openly about mental
“And once staff know that every supervisor
is trained,” she said, “they may also
feel more comfortable approaching their
manager with questions or concerns.”
When organizations do share details
of plans and progress, it can have spinoff
benefits, as well.
“Organizations that have started to
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higher productivity, increased morale,
decreased absenteeism, lower health care
costs and less employee turnover.
In some parts of Europe, where the
statistics suggest as many as one in four
people suffer from the effects of mental illness,
in-depth study of the financial benefits
of mental health programs have been
promising. In the United Kingdom, for
example, early identification, management
and prevention measures have made a big
impact. Those efforts are estimated to produce
annual savings of nearly $400,000
for an organization with 1,000 employees
and mental health costs of $1.3 million.
TAKE THE FIRST STEP
Some execs may fear a quagmire of legal
implications if their organization launches
a mental health campaign in the workplace,
but these concerns are unfounded.
The Standard is voluntary and as Mahajan
pointed out, “It’s a set of tools, not rules.”
She added, “Taking these measures may
actually decrease liabilities because you’re
doing something about mental health.
You’re following the Standard.”
According to Baynton, small steps can
add up to positive changes.
“Really, it’s about how we treat each
other on a daily basis,” said Baynton. “It’s
not some big change of process. Rather,
it’s that we start to influence processes in a
positive way over time that will be sustain-
Photo by Andrey_Kuzmin/Photos.com
24 ❚ JANUARY 2014 ❚ HR PROFESSIONAL