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REDEFINING “HEALTHY” WORKPLACES & WHY MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

Provided by: - January 3, 2024

BY PETE PACZKO

for the Regina & District Chamber of Commerce

You like to think you look after your staff. You offer a comprehensive health and dental benefits plan and a pretty generous pension plan. But what are you doing about the mental health of your employees?

According to WorkSafe Saskatchewan (the partnership between the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) and the Ministry of Labour Relations and Workplace Safety), leaders need to be attuned to the psychological health and safety needs in their workplaces. Those that put in the effort can often be considered employers of choice by job hunters. Those that don’t risk being left behind in a competitive job market.

The national standard of Canada for psychological health and safety in the workplace defines a psychologically healthy and safe workplace as “a workplace that promotes workers’ psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to worker psychological health, including in negligent, reckless or intentional ways.”

The standard also outlines best practices and approaches that workplaces can utilize to assess elements within their workplace that may impact the psychological health and safety of their workers. This includes policies, procedures and interactions between leaders and workers, as well as with customers and clients.

In Saskatchewan, the WorkSafe website has an online resource centre to provide Saskatchewan employers with the online tools they need to ensure their employees can thrive in psychologically healthy and safe work environments. The resource centre is a collaboration between WorkSafe Saskatchewan and one of Canada’s leading experts in the field, Dr. Joti Samra.

“The benefits to employers who invest in sustainable psychological health and safety management systems are considerable,” said Dr. Samra. “Those benefits include increased employee productivity and engagement, reduced absenteeism, and fewer (and shorter in duration) disability claims.”

The resource centre offers a wide range of tools and resources for Saskatchewan employers wanting to develop psychological health and safety systems in their workplaces, or enhance their existing efforts. The centre also provides answers to many commonly asked questions, and directs users to specific resources for additional information and assistance.

Why does it matter?

Psychological injury claims are on the rise across Saskatchewan. One factor is the gradual elimination of the stigma surrounding mental health issues (i.e., “it’s okay to not be okay.”), while increased levels of workplace stress (particularly during and coming out of the global Covid-19 pandemic) also play a role.

According to statistics from the WCB, psychological health claims still only account for a small percentage of the workplace injury claims submitted in Saskatchewan. But in recent years, those numbers have been steadily climbing. From 2016 to 2020, the WCB accepted 1,128 psychological injury claims, with the number of accepted claims rising from 109 in 2016 to 274 in 2020.

In addition to online tools, the resource centre also has a comprehensive list of provincial mental health resources, as well as links to webinars and workshops.

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