The MHCC is proud to be a world leader in this area through the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

70% of employees in Canada are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace

14% think their workplace is neither healthy nor safe

30% of short and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses.

Of the $51 billion economic cost each year attributed to a mental health problem or illness in Canada, $20 billion stems from workplace losses.

Facts like these make it imperative that our attention to psychological health and safety in the workplace must increase.


The workplace plays an essential part in maintaining positive mental health, yet it can also be a stressful environment that contributes to the rise of mental health problems and illnesses.

Since most adults spend more of their waking hours at work than anywhere else and many youth hold part-time jobs, addressing issues of mental health at work is vitally important for all people in Canada.

70% of employees in Canada are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace, and 14% don’t think theirs is either healthy or safe. Such workplaces can take a significant personal toll as well as contribute to staggering economic costs. About 30% of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses. Of the $51 billion economic cost each year attributed to mental illness in Canada, $20 billion stems from workplace losses.

No workplace is immune from these risks. The definition of occupational health and safety cannot be limited to only the physical. Mental health is equally important and must not be overlooked.

Providing a Solution to Workplace Mental Health

The MHCC, in partnership with the Canadian Standards Association and the Bureau de normalisation du Québec, has developed the world’s first standard for mental wellness in the workplace.  Launched in 2013, The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace is a voluntary set of guidelines, tools, and resources to guide organizations in promoting mental health and preventing psychological harm at work. The Standard has been downloaded over 31,000 times, with more than 6,000 downloads taking place in fiscal 2015/16.

Since its release, awareness of mental health issues in the workplace and of the Standard have increased dramatically, quickening the pace of change across Canada. By way of example, a survey of 805 downloaders of the National Standard demonstrates that 30% have committed to implementing the Standard and have already taken action, another 22% are making plans to get started and, in December 2015, the Government of Canada announced its intention to implement the Standard in federal workplaces across the country.

Case Study Research Project

The MHCC initiated the Case Study Research Project in 2014 to understand better how organizations across Canada are implementing the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

Forty-one organizations are participating in the pilot project, which is jointly funded through public-private partnership with the MHCC, Employment and Social Development Canada, Lundbeck Canada and the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace.

A research team from the Simon Fraser University Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction measures the process and impact outcomes for implementation of the Standard and report findings. This research team is working with an expert panel in order to address issues and concerns expressed by participating organizations.

The 2015 Annual Case Study Project meeting in Halifax allowed project participants to have an opportunity to network, learn, and share experiences. The meeting was attended by more than 70 participants representing Case Study organizations, researchers, expert panel members, and members of the project steering committee.

One of the key objectives of the Case Study Research Project is to influence employers to implement the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace. Participating organizations are leading the way, by sharing their journey with other employers.

At its midpoint, compelling interim findings for the Case Study Research Project were released at the Better Workplace Conference in Gatineau, Quebec in October 2015. High-level interim findings demonstrate promising results:

  • Participating organizations have achieved 65% of specified elements in the Standard;
  • 80% of organizations have reviewed/updated policies to include psychological health and safety in the workplace; and
  • 100% of the participants discovered they had some actions already in place that addressed mental health in the workplace.

KEY FINDING: At the outset, it was anticipated that the avoidance of legal liability and managing costs were key drivers for implementing the Standard. However, the most common motivator cited is protecting employee health and safety.

Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH) is a community teaching hospital which includes inpatient beds comprised of acute care, rehabilitation, complex continuing care and mental health. The hospital has 2,500 unionized and non-unionized employees and healthcare providers, 413 physicians and midwives, and over 500 adult and student volunteers.

TEGH has designated implementation of the Standard as a strategic priority in order to support its staff. The goal is to increase staff engagement which TEGH believes will lead to improved patient care. Ultimately, TEGH believes it’s the right thing to do.

TEGH’s overall staff engagement scores have significantly increased placing them as the leading community hospital in nine of eleven engagement categories. The organization has experienced a 7% decrease in overall healthcare costs over the last four years and a decrease in days absent (10.66 in 2008 to 6.55 in 2014). TEGH believes that their staff engagement score improvements have been a significant driver in improving patient satisfaction and overall quality metrics.

A Broad Spectrum Solution: The Standard has shown that large organizations typically have existing internal resources, infrastructure and key data that will support psychological health and safety initiatives. Meanwhile, smaller companies make up for this lack by having a better understanding of their workforce and the ability to respond more quickly to specific issues.

Social Business Forum

In November 2015, the MHCC hosted, in Ottawa, Canada’s first Social Business Forum to raise awareness about the important role that social businesses play within the broader community. The Forum brought together organizations and entrepreneurs who are working to promote the employment of people with lived experience of mental problems and illnesses

The discussions focused on some of the challenges social enterprises face and allowed participants to explore and share best practices.


“It was energizing for me to learn about the area of social business as a major component of recovery for individuals.” – Mandi Buckner, Sheridan College workplace psychological health and safety adviser.


Post Conference Evaluations Responses
The Forum met expectations The program was well organized The topics were relevant You learned new practices/tools
62% strongly agreed 68% strongly agreed 49% strongly agreed 92% selected yes
38% agreed 32% agreed 51% agreed


“I was truly happy to see that the conversation is starting to pick up steam about the benefits employment can have for those that suffer in isolation. It did surprise me to see so many different organizations that are all working on the same mission.” – Ryan O’Neil Knight, founder of Detailing Knights (a social business committed to working green and employing people with lived experience of mental illness)


 Advancing the Standard in the Healthcare Sector

Building on the successful healthcare roundtable series the MHCC co-hosted with HealthCareCAN, the MHCC established the first national community of practice, the By Health For Health Collaborative, to drive wide-spread adoption of the Standard.

Made up of more than 20 senior leaders from major hospitals across the country, the work of the collaborative has resulted in the development of a new resource tailored to the specific needs of the health sector.

In partnership with Ottawa Public Health, the MHCC is developing orientation training to promote psychological health in the workplace. Much like the Workplace Hazardous Materials Information System that educates employees about physical hazards, these interactive components and videos highlight 13 pertinent psychological factors.

Collaboration with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse

The MHCC is expanding its work on workplace mental health to include substance use and misuse and is collaborating with the Canadian Centre on Substance Abuse (CCSA) to develop a guide for employers.

Studies have linked substance use and misuse to numerous important workplace outcomes, including:

  • Absenteeism;
  • Lost productivity;
  • Increased on-the-job accidents and injuries;
  • Increased exposure to legal liabilities;
  • Increased sick leave and health benefits claims; and,
  • Increased incidents of workplace violence and harassment.

In spite of these findings, substance use and misuse is often misunderstood and poorly managed. Further, employers report that they need tools and resources on how to begin effectively managing this challenge within the context of workplace safety.

Following up on these initial studies, The Conference Board of Canada, the CCSA and the MHCC, along with other partners and stakeholders, convened a roundtable in January 2016 that included employers, unions, and academics.

The MHCC is working collaboratively to develop an employer guide featuring a suite of tools, checklists and resources stemming from both the stakeholder roundtable and a literature review of best practices. The guide will be tested and validated with various employers.

All three partner organizations have agreed to undertake knowledge exchange activities once the guide is developed to ensure uptake across Canada.

In order to continue the advancement of the work begun in 2014, with the release of the jointly developed document Collaboration for Addiction and Mental Health Care: Best Advice, the MHCC continues to consult community and policy leaders to update the document, identifying best and promising practices fundamental to collaboration between addictions and mental health.

First Responders

Among the MHCC’s initiatives targeting this sector is a series of workshop called Mental Health for First Responders Workshop: Protecting Those Who Help Others. The workshops enhance the capacity of first responder organizations across the country to protect and promote mental health and wellness in the workplace. This training, organized in partnership with first responder organizations, helps participants:

  • Learn to articulate the business case for psychological health and safety;
  • Understand the tools, resources and training available;
  • Discover how to assess organizational needs and opportunities;
  • Come away with concrete next steps; and,
  • Network in order to share new approaches, insights and opportunities.

The first workshop was held in Vaughan, Ontario, in partnership with Tema Conter Memorial Trust. The 32 participants represented a cross-section of first responder disciplines, as well as public safety communication personnel (dispatchers, 911 operators) and mental health professionals. Rich discussions were generated, and knowledge was shared across jurisdictions.

Profile of Workshop Participants

Pie Chart

A summary report from this workshop identified needs and opportunities, as well as a robust library of resources.