Ontario MOL urges C-suite to focus on mental health

Kevin Flynn, Ontario's minister of labour, is calling on senior leadership to treat psychological safety the same as physical safety within their organizations.

29 April 2016
Flynn-2016"I need you to take mental health in the workplace as seriously as you take health and safety. I need you to put firm and very concrete plans in place. I need you to talk mental health with other CEOs and leaders in your sector. We need to make this a regular conversation you have with people on a daily basis," said Flynn, speaking at the CEO Health + Safety Leadership Network roundtable on April 26 as part of Partners in Prevention Conference in Mississauga, Ont.

Since 2003, Ontario has reduced workplace injuries by 40 to 50 per cent and Flynn would love to see a similar reduction for the injuries and illnesses that accompany mental health issues and addictions.

"Imagine if we could do what we did for physical injuries to the mental health injuries as well. Imagine what that would mean for those people, the employees, and imagine what that would mean for the bottom line of your company. Imagine the business case that goes along with that," Flynn told the group of 80 directors and members of the C-suite.

Nearly one in four working Canadians will be affected by mental health problems or illnesses, which lead to absenteeism, presenteeim and huge turnover, said Flynn.

The minister issued a challenge to each and every director and C-suite leader in the room to think about what they can do to make sure their workplace is preventing harm to workers' psychological health and well-being.

"Ask yourself some questions: Do you have the supports in place for those who need them? Do you check in with employees who have psychologically stressful jobs? What can you do in your own organization to reduce stigma around mental health?"

He also encouraged leaders to put themselves in the shoes of someone who may need to step forward with a mental health issue.

"Would you feel good about stepping forward? If colleagues found out you were dealing with these challenges, would they still trust you? Would you be seen as a reliable employee? Someone that should be promoted?" Flynn asked. "If the answer is not what you think it should be, perhaps you should put some things in place to change that."

Source: COS Magazine

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