Mental Health Vital For Every Business

August 29, 2022


GREATER VICTORIA – Many years ago, when I first entered the workforce, most people didn’t talk about mental health as something that needed to be supported.

I wonder how many people I’ve worked with who might have had better outcomes if employers truly understood the value of supporting their staff’s mental wellbeing.

We do a much better job today. There are a number of dates on the calendar — such as Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 — that are helping build awareness. We now know that all of us are affected by mental health in some way. Like many, I’ve shared personal stories on social media and in my Chamber Chats podcast of my own struggles as a younger person with mental health because I believe it’s past time to address the stigma that can keep people from getting help.

In September, I’m hosting a conversation with Jonny Morris, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Association’s BC Division. I’m looking forward to the discussion and how businesses can help with efforts to continue improving the health of their employees. As a prelude to this you might want to check out the Chamber Chat podcast I did with Jonny a few months ago.

The World Health Organization recognizes the important role that work plays in regard to mental health. Our jobs are a big part of how we think of ourselves. They can give us a sense of purpose and help us feel good about contributing to our communities.

There is also a financial incentive to promoting a healthy environment at work as physical and mental health concerns can have a direct economic impact on a business. The WHO estimates that depression and anxiety cost the global economy more than $1 trillion every year. Conversely, every $1 put into addressing common mental health challenges results in a return of $4 because of improved productivity and fewer sick days.

Most of us spend more time at work than we do with our families. It makes sense that our workplaces should be places we want to be. Sadly, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 70 per cent of Canadians are concerned about the psychological safety of their workplace, including 14 per cent who don’t feel safe at all. This takes a huge toll on our economic productivity and shows up in costs such as disability claims. Nationwide, the cost of not addressing mental health is more than $50 billion every year. Issues such as absenteeism, turnover and even the inability of staff to be fully present at work are negatively affecting businesses.

Fortunately, there are many resources available to make a positive difference in the lives of those we work with. Employment and Social Development Canada has identified a number of best practices for employers, including supporting employees’ participation and decision-making, promoting work-life balance and effectively recognizing your staff’s contributions.

With so many employers facing challenges finding and keeping employees, having a great workplace is one of the best business decisions you can make. I hope you join me on Sept. 20, from 11:30 am to 1 pm at the Parkside Hotel and Spa, to learn more about Building Mental Health in the Workplace. To register, go to

Bruce Williams is CEO of the Greater Victoria Chamber of Commerce











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