Posted by Rupa Sehgal on May 9, 2019
Rupa Sehgal

At any given time, 1 in 5 people in Canada are living with mental health problems. Nearly half the population will experience some form of mental illness by age 40. That’s a lot of people and a lot of room for improvement!

Your company is missing out on talent and incurring additional health-related costs if it isn’t addressing and managing employees’ mental health issues in the workplace.

Ready to make changes at your workplace? First, assess the current situation by gathering input from every level of your organization.


Assess the current situation

This list of questions, adapted from resources produced by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, is a good place to start:

Culture & environment:

  • Is your workplace inclusive and free of discrimination?
  • Does your company emphasize civility in workplace interactions?
  • Is your workplace flexible about when, where, and how people work?

Work/life balance:

  • Does your company help employees find solutions to work/life conflict?
  • Does your company provide paid sick days?
  • Do employees take their entitled time off? (E.g. lunchtime, breaks, vacation time.)


  • Does your company provide the resources employees need to meet the demands of their work? (E.g. training, mentoring, job shadowing)
  • Are prospective and current employees with mental illness asked what they need to succeed?
  • Does your company maintain low-pressure contact with employees who are on leave?

Now that you have this input, identify your company’s opportunities for improvement.

Take action

Again with feedback from all levels of your company, decide on priorities for the short, medium, and long term. Below are some suggested changes to help your company reduce stress and increase work satisfaction for everyone — likely reducing the risk of new mental illness developing.

Culture & environment:

  • Be flexible about how, where, when people work — including different types of workspace, and working from home.
  • Model respectful interactions at all times — with customers and team members at every level of your company. If you mess up, apologize!

Work/life balance:

  • Encourage a company culture that values breaks and vacations. Leaders should model the importance of taking breaks and vacations, so other employees see that it’s acceptable behaviour.
  • Regularly check in with employees and ask what they need to maintain a healthy work/life balance.


  • When an employee has a leave of absence, stay in touch. But don’t exert any pressure on them. Reduce stress upon return by gradually increasing work hours, number of days worked per week, etc.
  • Provide helpful employee benefits, such as Dialogue’s telemedicine-based mental health solution. This improves employee access to mental health care, and increases the efficiency of care delivery.

What about the cost?

You may have concerns about the costs of implementing these solutions.

“[T]here are certainly costs involved in implementing accommodations and supports for [workers with mental illness]. However, ... the benefits organizations receive in return more than make up for these initial and ongoing costs, ranging from two to seven times the overall investment based on a five-year projection.”

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s 2018 research report goes into the details of the business case for recruiting and retaining people with mental illness.

Here are some benefits for the organization:

  • Increased job satisfaction and work relationships
  • Improved retention/reduced turnover
  • Improved talent attraction
  • Improved company reputation
  • Reduced absenteeism and presenteeism

By implementing the necessary steps, your organization will surely reap the benefits, and best of all, you’ll see happier and healthier employees in your midst.

Have you heard of Dialogue’s unique Stress Management and Well-Being program? Learn more about why top Canadian business are implementing this comprehensive and innovative service to support their employees, and contact us for information.

More resources

Considering the costs, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health

Mental health in the workplace, World Health Organization

Seven actions towards a mentally healthy organisation, MQ

Mental illness in the workplace, Canadian Mental Health Association

Topics: For Organizations