Canada Takes Mental Health Seriously

A new national standard for workplace safety was released today in Canada. The first of its kind in the world, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (CSA Z1003) is a voluntary standard that addresses a growing concern in the workplace – mental health.

With the support of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), the standard was developed jointly by the Canadian Standard Association (CSA) and the Bureau de normalisation du Quebec (BNQ) and its goal is to guide Canadian employers in creating workplaces that are psychologically safe and healthy.

When it comes to the workplace, the implications of mental illness are complex and extensive. MHCC President and CEO, Louise Bradley, has stated that mental illness costs the Canadian economy an estimated $51 billion annually, and that almost $20 billion of that comes from workplace losses.

Mental illness accounts for almost 30 percent of disability claims in Canada, and that number is growing. This standard has been a long time coming, according to Bradley. “The requirements for an employee’s physical health and safety in the workplace are a longstanding concern for Canadian employers. Now it’s time to consider the mental wellbeing of the workforce the same way,” she said in a June 2011 press conference for the standard.

Canada’s occupational health professionals should be sure to read the new standard, which will be free to the public for the first five years of its release. The standard will be made available on the CSA and BNQ websites.

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