Guarding Minds @ Work: Breakthrough resource gives Canadian employers tools to address mental health issues in the workplace

    Three in ten Canadian employees may be experiencing a work environment
    that is not psychologically safe and healthy(*), new research finds

    TORONTO, April 20, 2009 /CNW/ - The Great-West Life Centre for Mental
Health in the Workplace (the Centre) today announced the launch of Guarding
Minds @ Work - a breakthrough evidence-based tool developed by leading
Canadian mental health researchers. The new tool provides Canadian employers
with proactive, comprehensive ways to assess the psychological safety and
health of their specific workplace, combined with information on appropriate
solutions and a method of measuring the effectiveness of those solutions.
    "Mental health issues pose a direct impact to the bottom line of Canadian
businesses," said Mike Schwartz, Executive Director of the Centre and Senior
Vice-President, Group Benefits at Great-West Life. "Most employers have access
to materials and resources on physical safety and health issues, but there are
very few resources for employers to assess the psychological safety and health
of their own workplace."

    Guarding Minds @ Work provides employers with practical, user-friendly
tools to help assess their organization's psychological safety and health, and
recommends pro-active action steps. It includes:

    -  An explanation of the concept of psychological safety and health
    -  The business and some legal and health considerations on why mental
       health in the workplace is important
    -  Practical, user-friendly assessment tools, including an organizational
       audit and an online survey to measure psychological safety and health
       in the workplace through 12 risk factors such as levels of
       psychological support and protection, workload management, work/life
       balance and more
    -  A risk "Report Card" with actions to help reduce psychological risks
       in the workplace
    -  Evaluation tools to measure progress and outcomes

    Research undertaken from March 19 to April 7, 2009 for the Consortium for
Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH), and conducted by Ipsos Reid supports
the growing need for such tools. The survey of 6,800 employed Canadians is the
largest and most significant Canadian study to evaluate risk levels of
psychological safety and health in the workplace, by sector.

    (*) A psychologically safe and healthy workplace is one that promotes
    employees' psychological well-being and does not harm employee mental
    health in negligent, reckless or intentional ways.

    The research reveals that:

    -  One in five (19%) Canadian employees feel their work environment is
       not psychologically safe or mentally healthy;
    -  While 19% of employees perceive an issue, when research-based criteria
       are applied, the number climbs to 3 in 10, or 29% of employees may
       actually be experiencing a work environment with significant or
       serious psychological risk concerns;
    -  Employees most at risk are involved in shift work; hold more junior
       level positions; are more likely to be union members; are male; work
       more than 50 hours per week; are middle aged; have a high school or
       less education; and/or work for medium-sized or larger companies.
    -  Industries with employees most at risk include transportation and
       warehousing, manufacturing, health care and social services, and
       public administration.

    A summary of the Ipsos Reid survey results is available at

    Guarding Minds @ Work - A Workplace Guide to Psychological Safety &
Health was developed by the Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare, a
leading national research centre in the Faculty of Health Sciences at Simon
Fraser University, B.C. COMH consulted with researchers and experts in Canada
and internationally. Funded by Great-West Life through its corporate
citizenship program as a uniquely Canadian endeavour, Guarding Minds @ Work is
publicly available online to interested parties at no charge at and through the Centre's website at
    "Guarding Minds @ Work has been developed by researchers who understand
the realities of Canadian business, and who can turn knowledge gained through
research into practical tools for a Canadian business environment," added Dr.
Joti Samra, Adjunct Professor and Scientist with COMH.
    Empirical research as well as emerging case law and legislation informed
the design of Guarding Minds @ Work, noted Dr. Martin Shain, Adjunct Professor
with COMH. "Mental health is gaining recognition as an integral part of
workplace safety and health, partially as a result of the accommodation laws
established under human rights legislation and evolving employment standards
legislation," Dr. Shain said. "The duty to provide a psychologically safe
workplace is emerging as an ethical and legal obligation for Canadian
    "As a leading provider of group benefit plans, Great-West Life sees the
effects of mental health issues on people and businesses every day," said
Schwartz. "Through the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the
Workplace, we are committed to increasing knowledge and awareness related to
mental health issues and their impacts in the workplace, and to turning this
knowledge into action. Guarding Minds @ Work is a great example of this at

    About the Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare

    The Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare (COMH) is a
collective of mental health researchers, consultants and practitioners with
experience working with a range of public and private sector organizations.
COMH's goal is to further the creation and translation of mental health
knowledge and practice into real-world settings. To achieve this objective,
COMH forms collaborative relationships with committed organizations, leaders
and experts to achieve specific outcomes.

    About the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace

    Established in June 2007, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in
the Workplace brings a unique focus to an important issue for Canadian
employers, managers and employees. Focused specifically on the workplace, the
Centre is working to increase awareness and understanding and to help
employers take concrete steps to prevent and reduce employee mental health
issues. The Centre is a long-term, public service commitment by Great-West
Life to this very important social and economic issue.

    About Great-West Life

    Founded in Winnipeg in 1891, The Great-West Life Assurance Company has
long been a leader in the group benefits marketplace. Great-West Life's
national corporate citizenship program is the Key to Giving(TM). Great-West
Life is a subsidiary of Great-West Lifeco Inc. and a member of the Power
Financial Corporation group of companies.

    The Ipsos Reid Survey

    The survey was conducted on behalf of the Consortium for Organizational
Mental Healthcare (COMH). This online survey of some 6,800 employed Canadian
adults was conducted from March 19 to April 7, 2009 via the Ipsos I-Say Online
Panel, Ipsos Reid's national online panel. The results of this poll ensure
that the sample's composition reflects the actual employed Canadian population
according to Census data. Statistical margins of error are not applicable to
online polls, however an unweighted probability sample of this size, with a
100% response rate, would have an estimated margin of error of +/- 1.2
percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had the entire population of employed
adults in Canada been polled.

For further information:

For further information: or to reach a spokesperson for Guarding Minds @
Work, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace or the
Consortium for Organizational Mental Healthcare contact: Teresa Pagnutti,
Environics Communications, (416) 969-2721; Marlene Klassen, Assistant
Vice-President, Communication Services, Great-West Life, (204) 946-7705

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