2018 Innovators in Mental Health and Safety

Innovators in Workplace Mental Health
Bring "The Standard" to Fruition

The 2018 Innovators in Workplace Mental Health share a belief in taking care of the whole person to drive positive change in employee mental health and well-being.

An initiative is only as effective as the leadership responsible for developing and implementing it. In 2013, Canada launched "The Standard" which is the short name for "The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace." This ground breaking set of guidelines, resources, and tools is the Mental Health Commission of Canada's effort to start a public dialogue about mental health and to support implementation of initiatives in Canada's workplaces.

It takes non-judgmental leadership to bring an initiative to life, and that is what the 2018 Innovators in Workplace Mental Health have done. Using The Standard and/or customized mental health initiatives in their organizations, the dialogue is now conducted in the light of day. Mental health is often equated to mental illness, and that leads to false assumptions and stigmatization of people who indicate they have psychological needs. The truth is that mental health embraces many normal human emotions, like stress and fear, and is merely one element important to a person's holistic well-being. The state of one's mental health is determined by a number of factors that include physical and financial well-being, working conditions, the type of work, and an organization's culture.

This year, DiversityCan Magazine names five leaders in the mental health space who are making a difference in the lives of employees and their families. They are innovators and creative thinkers who are determined to eliminate the stigma attached to the words "mental health." The organizational leaders are conveying, through their actions and programs, an important message: Everyone has psychological needs, and achieving holistic well-being means addressing physical and mental conditions.

The 2018 Innovators are remarkable people who fearlessly talk about mental well-being. They have developed a variety of strategies to encourage people to stay mentally and physically fit, and to help people in need access the necessary resources. Typically in the past, employees with mental health issues would try to hide them, believing there would be too many negative repercussions should the truth be known. This harms the employee, the organization, and society in general when mental health challenges are not adequately met. For example, enduring too much stress for too long will impact a person physically, can lead to missed work days or lower productivity, and can harm relationships with family and friends.

The Innovators work in a diverse set of organizations, but they all have one thing in common. They want people to live their best lives. Their role, as they see it, is to help employees achieve total well-being, and they are doing so by developing successful initiatives and key best practices in the mental health space. However, the strategy is to make mental health conversations and resources a natural part of a well-being or wellness function that includes conversations and activities focused on mental, physical, and financial health.

Each Innovator has developed a unique approach that is managed and amended as needed to ensure workforce needs are met. Agnes McLachlan at the City of Barrie is currently implementing abilities-focused accommodation strategies. Tyson Joyce at the City of Edmonton instituted metrics and early intervention initiatives. Rick Demaray at Grand Prairie developed contests that encourage people to use their imagination and also holds sessions each year that cover topics of the employee's choice. Candace DiCresce at Rogers Communication is integrating mental and physical well-being, and financial safety into the organization's culture. Nicole Cairns at Thorpe Benefits implemented a multi-faced approach to health and wellness that addresses every area of influence on well-being – nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, nutrition, and stress reduction.

Bringing the conversations about mental health into the open is an important step in creating a fully inclusive and supporting organizational culture. The positive impacts go far beyond the workplace. Employees who take care of their whole selves and can access mental health resources will enjoy positive impacts in their personal lives, as well as their work lives. Please read each bio with an open mind and take advantage of the willingness of the 2018 Innovators in Workplace Mental Health to share their experiences, strategies, and outcomes. The staff at DiversityCan are honored to have the opportunity to share their vision with the world and hope that many more employers will follow their lead.

  • Agnes McLachlan Agnes McLachlan
    Wellness and Abilities Management Specialist, Human Resources

    Agnes McLachlan Brings "The Working Mind" to
    the City of Barrie

  • Candace DiCresceCandace DiCresce
    Senior Director, Safety & Well-being

    Candace DiCresce Generates Dialogue on Well-Being
    at Rogers Communications

  • Tyson Joyce Tyson Joyce
    Director, Disability and Mental Health
    in Corporate Safety and
    Employee Health, Financial and
    Corporate Service

    Tyson Joyce Equips Managers and Employees
    at City of Edmonton

  • Rick Demaray Rick Demaray
    Health Wellness &
    Safety Coordinator

    Rick Demaray Develops Enthusiasm for Wellness at Grande Prairie

  • Nicole CairnsNicole Cairns
    Director of Health & Wellness

    Nicole Cairns Develops Multifaceted Approach to Well-Being
    at Thorpe Benefits