Why you should train management to respond to mental health concerns?

As per the Occupational Health and Safety Act in Ontario (OHSA), it’s the employer’s duty to take “every reasonable precaution” to ensure the health and safety of all their employees. Even though health and safety legislation doesn’t specifically state psychological health and safety, it should be considered best practice for employers to consider and deal with mental harm in the same way as physical harm.

It is important for employers to create a comfortable environment at work that ensures that their employees aren’t being psychologically harmed in any way. This can be achieved by “promoting civility and respect in the workplace and not imposing an unrealistic workload”. Moreover, employers should also be thinking of providing wellness programs (EFAP), fostering a ‘help-seeking’ culture, and identifying stress triggers.

However, while employers should make a reasonable effort to consider mental harm, they are not expected to accommodate past the point of undue hardship. Danielle Stewart, a Workplace Mental Health Consultant states:

“While the manager is also an employee, their responsibility is to manage other employees. It is also their role and responsibility to support the employer’s efforts to accomplish their duties under the OHSA. Don’t forget about the mental health of your managers! Managers have many roles and responsibilities - their jobs are not easy. We can’t forget that mental health is everyone’s responsibility, we all have a role to play.”

She further adds:

“Improving management skills around how we organize our work and manage our people can prevent mental distress and harm" “Management training can also support workers who are struggling to stay at work through various accommodations. Ultimately simple training can help to mitigate the cost of disability and claims costs and lead to higher productivity and efficiencies.”

Therefore, in order to achieve higher productivity and efficiencies at the workplace, employers should make a reasonable effort to deal with mental harm.

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