"We all need to do a good job taking care of ourselves, but that's not possible if employers aren't supportive. And while there is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace, we still have a long way to go to establish practices to sustain mental health." — Val Avery, President Health Sciences Association of British Columbia
Vancouver (12 March 2015) — The Health Sciences Association of British Columbia (HSABC/NUPGE) recognizes that workload and stress are among the most serious workplace challenges of our time.
According to HSABC/NUPGE President Val Avery, "as a union, we're seeing an increasing number of members, from all professions, paying a terrible price for this. Compromised performance, increased illness and disability wreak havoc on professionals, their families, and the health care system itself.
"We all need to do a good job taking care of ourselves, but that's not possible if employers aren't supportive. And while there is a growing recognition of the importance of mental health in the workplace, we still have a long way to go to establish practices to sustain mental health."
Psychological health and safety in the workplace
A 1998 study estimated the annual cost of mental health problems to the Canadian economy at $14.8 billion; more recent estimates put the cost as high as $35 billion. Studies also reveal that when employers adopt policies and programs to address psychological health and safety, they lower their costs related to psychological health issues by 15 to 33 per cent. And that's good for patient service, too.
That's why HSABC/NUPGE has been using a survey tool called Guarding Minds at Work to gather information from its members about psychological health and safety in their workplaces.
The program, developed by researchers from the Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA) within the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Fraser University, is based on extensive research, including data analysis of a national sample and reviews of national and international best practices, as well as existing and emerging Canadian case law and legislation.
Last fall, Guarding Minds at Work questionnaires were circulated to all HSABC/NUPGE members with email addresses, and over 1000 responded to the 68-question survey.
HSABC/NUPGE is now analyzing results, comparing responses from different employer groups, writing a report and making recommendations for various initiatives to be undertaken.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE