Mental Wellbeing at Work

Everyone working in healthcare has the right to be healthy, safe and thrive on the job, and to return home safely to family and friends.

WorkSafeBC reports a 38% increase in mental health injury claims between 2019 and 2021, with 40% of all mental health claims coming from the health sector. The Mental Health Commission of Canada found the economic cost of workplace-related mental health claims in Canada is at least $50 billion per year.

Mental health claims are the most expensive of all workplace insurance claims because of the cost of treatment, stigma, access to supports and length of time people are away from work. Mental wellbeing is complex, so is the mental health system and there isn’t one solution that helps all. Mental health concerns are also the number one cause of reduced focus and productivity on the job, disability, and time off sick.

It’s time to switch our way of thinking about mental wellbeing. Good mental health is part of good overall health, and just as important as physical health.

SWITCH BC has been asked by the Ministry of Health to support the implementation of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace across the B.C. health sector. Staff from SWITCH BC will work with stakeholders and partners to develop and support meaningful changes that promote the mental health and wellbeing of everyone working in health.

What is the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace?

The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard) is a set of tools and resources that help promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work. While there are many factors outside of work that may impact a person’s psychological health and safety, the Standard focuses what’s within the control, responsibility, or influence of the workplace. These include working conditions, management practices, decision making, and communication.

Research shows when workplaces implement the Standard, productivity, performance, risk management, recruitment and retention improve.

In healthcare workplaces, protecting and promoting psychological health and safety can also:

  • lower healthcare costs
  • reduce medical errors
  • increase patient satisfaction
  • enhance the reputation of the organization
  • improve morale and working relationships


  • Communicate with health care teams early and often.
  • Continue to communicate through every step of the implementation.
  • Implementing the Standard requires changing the system, and while having ongoing feedback from health care teams takes time and effort, it is critical to successful implementation and cooperation.


  • Invite everyone to participate.
  • People are more likely to accept the Standard when they’ve participated in the changes and solutions, creating a more engaged and motivated workforce.

Data Tracking and Evaluation

  • Set clear goals, with measurable objectives and targets, early in the planning process.
  • Evaluating outcomes is a requirement of the Standard.
  • Organizations often track success of the Standard through existing data sources, such as mental health benefits/Employee Family Assistance Program (EFAP), return-to-work (RTW) and accommodation, and short- and long-term disability[i].

[i] MHCC, Case Study Research Project Findings, 2017.


  • Make sure there enough human and financial resources to implement the Standard.
  • If resources are limited, focus on proven high impact areas such as leader development and training and awareness campaigns designed to reduce stigma and shift culture [i].
  • Expanding successful programs and resources that are already in place is another smart solution.

MHCC, Case Study Research Project Findings, 2017.
[1] Deloitte, “The ROI in workplace mental health programs: Good for people, good for business”, 2019.