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Chamber Welcomes Mental Health Toolkit for Employers

New tools help small business bridge the gap for a better workplace

THUNDER BAY –  The Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce welcomes a new toolkit from the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC) that seeks to assist employers in adopting mental health strategies for their workplace. In its new report and toolkit, Working Towards Mental Wellness, the OCC outlines the benefits of a healthy workplace, helps define what a healthy workplace looks like, and lays out steps for businesses to take meaningful action in addressing mental wellness in the workplace.

Mental illnesses cost the Canadian economy an estimated $50 billion annually and on average cost businesses almost $1,500 per employee per year; there is a strong business case for implementing a mental health strategy in the workplace.

“Building a mentally healthy workplace generally requires leadership, strategy and resources.  This toolkit is a welcome resource that will assist employers in Thunder Bay in enhancing their workplace wellness policies and procedures,” says Charla Robinson, President of the Thunder Bay Chamber of Commerce.

In a recent survey of members, the OCC found that while 81 per cent of employers believe spending on employees’ health and well-being is a good investment, only 4 in 10 businesses actually have a formal mental health strategy in place.  The gap between business sizes is particularly acute, as only 35 per cent of small businesses have a strategy compared to 65 per cent of medium and 76 per cent of large businesses. Understandably, small businesses have failed to act on mental wellness due to cost, perceived scope of responsibility, privacy concerns, or simply a lack of knowing what to do.

Fostering a healthy work culture does not require excessive process or large expenditure. The OCC’s toolkit for employers lays out a simple process to help organizations of all sizes get their mental health strategy in place.  The toolkit provides three initial steps for employers to start taking action on mental health in the workplace:

  • Setting expectations: Identify your organization’s unique needs and solicit employee buy-in for change. Ask yourself what you are doing each day to model mental wellness at work.
  • Creating a supportive environment: Make sure all employees feel welcome and able to talk about their mental and physical challenges without fear of judgement or reprisal, by encouraging culture change at all levels of the organization.
  • Maintaining the conversation: Regularly measure the health of your organization to ensure that mental wellness strategies are not left on the shelf, and link action taken to results.

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More resources to help employers build their own mental health strategies can be found at www.occ.ca/mentalhealth

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