Mental health commission developing audit program around psychological safety at work

Ottawa investing over $800,000 for program that includes training, audits, pilot with employers

Mental health commission developing audit program around psychological safety at work

The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is developing a new program that will support Canadian employers looking to foster the psychological health and safety of their workers.

Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) is contributing roughly $820,000 over three years to support the creation of MHCC’s Psychological Health and Safety Audit Program. This project will be led by MHCC’s training arm, Opening Minds.

“Mental care is healthcare,” says Randy Boissonnault, minister of employment, workforce development and official languages, adding the project “will lead to improving health and wellness for workers from coast to coast to coast.”

A previous survey has found over half (53 per cent) of workers in Canada are having a negative feeling about work, while nearly one-third (30 per cent) of these workers feel tired and overworked.

‘Psychologically safer workplaces’

With the funding, Opening Minds will develop an evidence-based training and qualification program, certify auditors to conduct audits, and pilot the program with a number of employers.

“This contribution from ESDC will support us in creating a credible, reputable and sustainable psychological health and safety audit program,” says Shane Silver, MHCC vice-president of Opening Minds. “Ultimately, this program will enable us to create more informed employers, psychologically safer workplaces, more engaged workforces, and mentally healthier communities.”

Employers who want to participate in the audit program can take the MHCC training course on Integrating Psychological Health and Safety. This course will prepare them for undertaking an MHCC PHS Audit.

Employers can also have their own internal auditors trained and qualified by Opening Minds or they can engage a third-party auditor through Opening Minds. 

All auditors, including internal and third-party auditors, will be trained and qualified through the MHCC PHS Audit Program.

Training for auditors includes the Integrating Psychological Health and Safety course as a prerequisite to the five-day Auditor Training course. To become fully certified, auditors must successfully complete the training and conduct their first audit, meeting MHCC PHS Audit Quality Assurance requirements. 

Led by Opening Minds, MHCC Psychological Health and Safety Audit Program will help organizations better understand how to embed PHS in the way they work, according to MHCC.

The program is currently being piloted with a small group of auditors and organizations. An independent evaluator will look into the effectiveness of the program, and the final report will be published in a peer-reviewed journal.

Members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) have a far higher tendency to plan to end their life compared to the general public, according to a recent report.

How do you create psychological safety in the workplace?

Here are some ways to create psychological safety in the workplace, according to Greg Barnett, SVP of science at The Predictive Index:

  • Show your team you’re engaged.
  • Let your team see you understand.
  • Avoid blaming to build trust.
  • Be self-aware—and demand the same from your team.
  • If you have a team member who speaks negatively about peers, talk to them about it. Be clear; let them know that you work together as a team and negativity will not be tolerated.
  • When making decisions, consult your team.
  • Be open to feedback.
  • Support and represent your team.

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