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New psychological health and safety standard aims to help improve work environments

Ottawa, ON -- Mental health problems and illnesses are a leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and take a heavy toll on Canadian workers and workplaces. Soon Canadian employers will have more support and the tools they need to improve...


Ottawa, ON — Mental health problems and illnesses are a leading cause of workplace disability in Canada and take a heavy toll on Canadian workers and workplaces. Soon Canadian employers will have more support and the tools they need to improve mental health among their employees with a national psychological health and safety standard.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is heading up the development of the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (‘the Standard’), in collaboration with the Bureau de normalisation du Québec (BNQ) and CSA Standards.

“The economic burden of mental disorders in Canada has been estimated at $51¿billion per year, with almost $20 billion of that coming from workplace losses,” said MHCC president and CEO Louise Bradley.

Mental health problems and illnesses are the leading cause of workplace disability in Canada, representing 15% of Canada’s burden of disease. A Canadian Medical Association study in 2008 indicated that only 23% of Canadians surveyed said they would feel comfortable talking to an employer about their mental illness.

BNQ and CSA Standards have created a committee to develop the Standard, consisting of health and safety professionals, labour representatives, executives, government representatives, experts in law and policy and other groups. The goal is to make the Standard user-friendly and easily accessible to Canadian employers and other interested parties.

The Standard will be developed as a voluntary ‘stand-alone’ National Standard of Canada (NSC) and is expected to be a win/win scenario for both employees and employers. It will provide a methodology that will lead to measurable improvements in psychological health and safety for working Canadians. Employees will benefit from workplaces that promote and protect their mental health and employers will realize enhanced cost effectiveness, improved risk management, increased organizational recruitment and retention as well as corporate social responsibility.

The project is being funded by Human Resources and Skills Development Canada, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada and Bell.

There will be a 60-day public review process held in the fall of 2011, with the completed Standard scheduled to be released in 2012.

For more information, visit http://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca..