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Better workplace mental health just got easier

By Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO, CivicAction
Published in Psynopsis,Canada’s Psychology Magazine, Vol.39, No. 2.

For many of us, our workplaces can become a bit of a second home. It’s where we spend a lot of our time, and if we’re lucky, it’s also a place where we can collaborate, achieve new goals, and socialize with friends and co-workers. However, for a workplace to be such a positive space, it also needs to be supportive and understanding — especially when it comes to mental health.

According to recent research, one in every two people in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area’s (GTHA) labour force has experienced a mental health issue.1* Of those who say they’re experiencing a mental health issue, 82% say it impacts their work.2 If current trends continue, it could mean $17 billion in lost productivity over the next decade in the GTHA alone, or an average annual GDP loss of $2,500 per person.1

The good news is that employers are aware of this challenge, and they want to do more. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, 32% of Canadian business leaders are taking action to address workplace mental health, while another 42% are interested but haven’t taken action due to barriers such as lack of time, resources, or know-how.3

So how do employers get past these barriers and get on the path to greater mental health for all their staff? Enter MindsMatter, a bilingual online assessment tool to help employers quickly determine their current level of mental health support and how to do more.

Developed by CivicAction (, a GTHA non-profit that brings together leaders from all sectors to work together to address key urban issues, MindsMatter is a free, confidential and easy-to-use assessment that takes only three minutes to complete. After answering 12 questions, users receive a tailored report containing three action items with links to relevant examples and resources to make taking the next step fast and effective.

CivicAction is calling on all employers – regardless of size, sector, or stage in their mental health journey – to take the MindsMatter assessment and complete at least one recommended action. Overall, CivicAction is one of a group of organizations working to see over 50% of all GTHA employers take action to support their employees’ mental health by 2019.

To develop the actions and resources for MindsMatter, CivicAction looked to the Mental Health Commission of Canada and its National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.4 The Standard, the first of its kind in the world, is a set of voluntary guidelines, tools, and resources that can help organizations promote better mental health at work.

CivicAction is also partnering with over 40 organizations through its Mental Health Champions Council and Advisory Group to help guide the development and promotion of MindsMatter. The Council and Advisory group includes leaders like AIMIA, Bell Let’s Talk, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, CGI, the Government of Ontario, St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton, the Royal Bank of Canada, and Unifor. It also includes a diversity of perspectives from organizations including a small business in Ajax, Ont., a family health team from Brampton, Ont., and mental illness advocacy group Voices from the Street.

To learn more about MindsMatter, or to take the assessment, visit

* This figure includes the 680,000 people with a mental illness and the 995,000 reporting a previous mental health issues out of the 3.2 million employees in the GTHA today.

References and links

1 Canadian Centre for Economic Analysis. (2016, April 18). Mental Health in the Workplace: Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) Research. CANCEA Bulletin, 6. Retrieved March 20, 2017, from in%20the%20GTHA%20Workplace.pdf

2 Morneau Shepell. (2016). Workplace Mental Health Priorities: 2016 (Rep.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from Morneau Shepell website: workplace-mental-health-priorities-2016-report.pdf

3 Canadian Mental Health Association. (2016, February). Workplace Mental Health in Canada Findings from a Pan-Canadian Survey (Rep.). Retrieved March 20, 2017, from Canadian Mental Health Association website: CMHA_Feb2016-1.pdf

4 Mental Health Commission of Canada. (2017). National Standard. Retrieved from Mental Health Commission of Canada Website: