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Creating healthy workplaces saves $$ per year

Creating healthy workplaces saves $$ per year

Louise Bradley, President and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), is in Auckland in March to discuss Canada’s efforts to create mentally healthy workplaces

Ms Bradley is one of 300 world leaders from eight countries who will be in New Zealand in March sharing best practice ideas for improving mental health and disability services internationally.

She says the costs of not addressing mental health issues in the workplace are significant. MHCC believes between 10 and 25 per cent of the current mental disability costs directly born by employers could be avoided. These costs are a result of lost productivity due to absenteeism, presenteeism and turnover.

In New Zealand, Pharmac released figures in 2012 which showed one in 10 New Zealanders were now prescribed antidepressants.

In an effort to reduce this cost to Canadian employers, Ms Bradley said, “The MHCC developed a National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace - the first of its kind in the world. It’s time to start thinking about mental well-being in the same way as we consider physical well-being, and the Standard offers the framework needed to help make this happen in the workplace.”

The Canadian Standard provides information and guidance on identifying psychological hazards in the workplace, such as occupational violence; assessing and controlling risks that cannot be eliminated, for example the stessors caused by organisational change or reasonable job demands; having practices that support and promote psychological safety in the workplace; developing a culture that promotes psychological good health; and taking a sustainable approach by developing measures and systems to review the standards.

Robyn Shearer, chief executive of Te Pou, a New Zealand agency dedicated to mental health workforce development, said having an expert like Louise in New Zealand was a rare opportunity for the country’s businesses to learn from the Canadians – a country very similar to ours - and to put employee mental health on the agenda.

“We spend a lot of our waking hours at work and our workplace significantly contributes to our mental wellbeing – in fact it is proven that employment is a health intervention for people with a mental illness. Creating mentally healthy workplaces is not only good for employees but it also makes good financial sense for businesses and society.”

Louise Bradley will be discussing the Standards at the IIMHL network meeting on Thursday 7 March. Employers or businesses interested in attending this presentation can contact Tamsin Webb to register their interest.
The International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) is a government to government funded initiative, which has seven member countries. New Zealand is one of the three founding member countries.
The aim of IIMHL is to coordinate learning exchanges between mental health and addiction leaders from member countries.
The leaders are meeting as part of the International Initiative for Mental Health Leadership (IIMHL) network meeting themed Innovation across the lifespan: What does it take to make an impact.

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