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Tackling the $51-billion-per-year Problem

Sarika Gundu, National Director, Workplace Mental Health, for CMHA: “Having a mentally healthy workplace will, with no doubt, help combat stigma."
Sarika Gundu, National Director, Workplace Mental Health, for CMHA: “Having a mentally healthy workplace will, with no doubt, help combat stigma."
CMHA 2014

By Paul Fitzgerald - ScholarLab, a Leading eLearning Company Partners with the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) to Help Erase the Stigma of Mental Health in the Workplace

Canadian businesses are turning a blind eye when it comes to dealing with mental health issues in the workplace, and it is proving enormously costly to Canada.

According the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the cost of mental illness to the nation’s economy is a staggering $51-billion annually.

ScholarLab, one of North America’s leading developers of online learning (based in Toronto, ON) is working alongside CMHA Ontario Division to foster and cultivate more mentally healthy environments in workplaces – big and small - right across the country.

ScholarLab and CMHA have now taken mental health education online, which will help educate both employers and employees on the best approaches when dealing with mental health issues. The new online mental health program, a first of its kind, clearly supports the implementation of Canada's National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety.

Managing Mental Health in the Workplace: A Three-Part Online Learning Series is now a focal point of CMHA’s portfolio of products and services, and is developed and supported by ScholarLab.

“This online training product is convenient for managers that are in rural areas of Canada and for managers with busy schedules who cannot attend facilitated training workshops in person,” says Sarika Gundu, National Director, Workplace Mental Health, for CMHA. “Many workplaces these days are virtual or office-based, or both, and now clients have more options to choose from. Also, this online learning series allows users to learn on their own terms: whenever, wherever, and however they learn best.”

The benefits of this online learning approach include: interactive video, expert instruction throughout the course, and the ability to pause, go back and review, and fast forward. Participants can watch the series as many times they like for three months.

“The platform keeps track of a learner’s progress so they always start where they last left off,” explains Gundu. “We also recommend blended learning packages for clients. So, managers can complete the online training and then within 90 days or so have an in-person follow up session facilitated by a Mental Health Works trainer. Our Advanced Solutions workshop provides a forum for learners to reflect on their experiences using Mental Health Works approaches. Learners will hear how others have used the approaches and have an opportunity to ask a Mental Health Works trainer questions.”

Having an online educational product that is easy and convenient to use can increase the amount of its participants and learners. The more managers that are educated, the more healthier workplaces that exist -- a positive step in the right direction. The ScholarLab and CMHA method of learning accommodates all types of learners and all types of schedules. It will no doubt be used more frequently in education and training.

“Having a mentally healthy workplace will, with no doubt, help combat stigma,” says Gundu.

She adds, “Workplaces not ‘walking-the-talk’ about mental health can damage the health of a workplace. A mental health awareness campaign in a workplace is not enough to create a mentally healthy workplace or prevent or combat stigma. Organizations should strongly consider adopting the National Standard of Canada on Psychological Health and Safety. The Standard helps workplaces weave mental health into their culture, largely resulting in a number of benefits for both the employer and the employee. The Standard provides a number of tools and resources that can essentially help workplaces ‘walk-the-talk.’”

Dr. Laurelle Jno Baptiste, COO and co-founder of ScholarLab, says she is impressed with how many companies now want to address the issue of mental health in the workplace.

“Over a decade ago, it was almost taboo to talk about mental health,” says Jno Baptiste. “We have come a long way and I think it is just amazing how the technology we are offering will benefit employers and employees and make healthier workplaces, which will save the system billions of dollars.”

Jno Baptiste indicates that improving mental health in the workplace relies on three pillars of success: leadership commitment, employee engagement, and collaboration with effective and continuous communication.

“Leadership commitment can be obtained through educating and training leaders about the importance of workplace mental health and about the current mental health landscape,” she says. “This information will provide a strong understanding as to why implementing the Standard is critical, valuable and the right thing to do in any and every workplace.”

Gundu adds, “ScholarLab does not just work with you to meet the product objectives, they also work with you to meet the program objectives. They have supported Mental Health Works through marketing and promotional support and with quality customer service. We plan to continuously work with them in future marketing and promotional strategies.”