Managing mental health in the workplace

Event Type: Course

“A psychologically healthy and safe workplace is one that: promotes employees’ psychological well-being and actively works to prevent harm to employee psychological health due to negligent, reckless or intentional acts.”

 – Centre for Applied Research in Mental Health and Addiction (CARMHA)

Mental health problems and illnesses are the leading causes of disability claims with the federal government having among the highest rates in Canada.

  • 20% of employees in any organization have mental health issues
  • 38% risk having a cardiovascular event if their job is stressful
  • 20% of public servants maintain that they have been harassed (primarily offensive remarks, unfair treatment and being excluded or ignored).

The duty to care is emerging:

  • The National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace is recently the basis for policy, jurisprudence and workplace training and programs
  • A precedent-setting task force has been created by the President of the Treasury Board and PSAC to assess and improve mental health and safety in the federal government workplace
  • The Association of Professional Executives of the Public Service of Canada (APEX) has released a report calling for increased civility in the workplace

What you do as a manager has a direct impact on the state of mental health of your employees.

  • 40% of managers say they have little time to be nice
  • 70% of managers’ report they do not have the required training or knowledge to deal with mental health in the workplace.
  • 30% of employees are uncomfortable talking to their manager about mental health

The more informed you are about how to mitigate risks of mental health injury in the workplace the more effective you will be in its prevention and also managing employees with mental health difficulties.

The course

This one day course will give federal government managers and leaders the knowledge and tools to better manage workplace mental health. They will know how to recognize employee psychological stress, respond to it, and monitor risk. And they will leave with a plan of action for addressing mental health in a proactive and defensible manner.

Specifically, at the end of this course, participants will know:

  • The psychological workplace hazards to be watching for and the preventative workplace culture requirements for avoiding mental health risks among employees.
  • The responsibilities, duty and legal requirements for managing mental health issues.
  • The boundaries around privacy and confidentiality.
  • The difference between mental distress, mental injury and mental illness and how each are dealt with in the workplace; knowing who and how to engage.
  • The risks associated with intervention and involvement in dealing with mental health situations. What is the right balance?
  • How to set in progress the right managerial actions to support individuals and the organization.
  • How to effectively communicate and create an emotionally safe environment of respect that promotes wellness and avoids stigma.

Our learning solution uses an experiential approach, balanced with theory and practice. Participants will use and build upon their real life experiences through dialogue-based methods and guidance on best practices.

Our instructors

Peter Hadwen has 25 years consulting experience in workplace culture program development. He is currently sitting on several federal government national advisory committees (Deputy Minister and Senior Executives) to develop respectful workplace program strategies, plans, governance and leadership development sessions. He has also led HR process improvements to embed respect including competencies for performance management, as well as to measure culture. He is also currently, reviewing harassment processes at the federal level for change. He is a leader in program tools development including for ethical risk, program measurement, culture assessment, leadership development, etc.

Diane McCusker has 35 years of experience in Human Resources policy development and program administration. Drafted legislation, and familiar with all elements of HR management, including performance management, delegation of managerial authority, respect in the workplace, union relations, assessment and resolution of harassment, mental health in the workplace, duty to accommodate and disability management, and workplace restoration. Retired as a senior executive and currently advising Justice Canada on respectful workplace legal, policy and program development.

Marilyn Domagalski has over 20 years in the facilitation and development of governance frameworks for healthy and respectful workplace cultures. She is experienced in leadership training and engaging teams to build towards desired positive behaviours and mitigate against negative behaviours and issues in the workplace. This has included the delivery and facilitation of sessions on workplace wellness, values and ethics, respectful workplace, harassment prevention and disclosure of wrongdoing.

Course fee

The cost of this day-long course $890 (no HST) per person. The price includes expert facilitation, course materials, morning and afternoon coffee, and a buffet lunch. Registration is done through an online registration system where you can select to pay by credit card and request an invoice.

The IOG value-added

All IOG courses are prepared and taught by those who have held senior positions in the federal government. They are guided by a Learning Committee of senior federal government public servants.

For those who wish to have an adapted course that is specific to their issues and requirements, customized course offerings can be delivered on request for branches, teams or groups, in English or French, in any part of the country. For more information about customized courses, contact Toby Fyfe at or at 613 562 0090 x242 for details.

The IOG also offers the Coaching Circle, to assist executives and officers at all levels of government as well as non-profit and other organizations in the development of their leadership skills.

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