Implementing Mental Health Within Your Disability Management Strategy
For some time, we have known about the importance of incorporating mental health into disability management strategies. In fact, as awareness has evolved, Canadian legislation has also adapted to ensure that invisible disabilities such as mental illness are acknowledged and respected in the workplace just as much as physical ones.
Now, six months into a worldwide pandemic, it is even more important than ever that employers are incorporating mental health into their disability management plans. According to a survey by the federal government, 52% of participants reported that their mental health was either somewhat worse or much worse since COVID measures like physical distancing were introduced.
How Mental Illness Can Impact Your Employees
Workers who are experiencing mental illness may exhibit a variety of symptoms. They may have a difficult time concentrating, making decisions, or interacting with others. This can lead them to think that they are not very good at their jobs and it can disrupt their productivity.
Every year, mental illness costs employers in Canada billions of dollars: from lost productivity due absenteeism; from presenteeism, when the employee comes into work even though they do not feel well; or from disability and other benefits.
Mental Health as a Component of Your Disability Management Plan
If you have not yet incorporated mental health into your own organization’s disability management strategy – or if it has been some time since these policies were reviewed, the following are a few tips to help you ensure that your employees’ mental health is being protected.
- Ensure that all workplace policies that deal with health and wellness also consider mental health. This includes policies on harassment, violence, and discrimination.
- If possible, ensure that employee assistance plans and company group benefits provide resources that support employees’ mental health.
- Mental health policies should be adequately communicated to all employees and training should be provided where needed.
- Advanced training in mental health policies should be provided to management and HR staff to ensure that they are equipped and comfortable assisting employees as appropriate.
- When a complaint of bullying or harassment is raised, management should conduct appropriate investigations in a timely manner that result in appropriate corrective action where it is found that violations of policy or the law have taken place. Victims of harassment or bullying should be supported in order to facilitate their ongoing employment within the organization.
- Employers should remember that whether a disability is physical or mental, it has the same protections under the Human Rights Code and that employers have a duty to accommodate up to the point of undue hardship.
- Consider whether your current policies adequately address workplace injury reporting. You may wish to address the reporting of mental health “injuries” in a similar manner to that of physical injuries. Alternatively, some mental health issues may be more sensitive in nature than physical injuries, so you may wish to have alternative reporting protocol as well.
How TeksMed Can Help
As experts in occupation disability – both physical and mental – TeksMed can help your organization develop policies and strategies to ensure you are up to date with current legislation and that physical and mental well-being of your employees is taken care of.
To schedule a consultation, contact us today.