Maybe it’s no longer the Most Depressing Day of the Year

Published in The Vancouver Sun, Opinion Editorial. January 15, 2014

Opinion: National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety sets standard for healthy workplace

As debate abounds about which Monday in January is actually the most depressing day of the year, and skeptics argue there is no scientific basis to make such a claim, most Canadians will likely acknowledge a general malaise that occurs right around now.

From January through to April, Canadians live through the flu, wild weather, mounting bills and deadlines, and most still make it to work on a regular basis. It’s a grind most of us live through. But imagine a workplace where you leave each day feeling productive, supported and better than when you arrived. This year, hopefully, things will be looking up for more of us once we get to work.

On Thursday, Canada moves a little closer to creating workplaces that are healthy, safe and supportive. This is the day the world’s first National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety turns one. For those of you who missed its birth, Canada released this standard one year ago. It was developed by the Canadian Standards Association (CSA Group) and the Bureau normalization du Québec (BNQ) in collaboration with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and with the help of community groups like the Canadian Mental Health Association. Development of the standard was funded by the government of Canada, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace and Bell Canada.

While it is a bit of a read, the standard gives Canadian businesses the opportunity to look at the health and safety of their organization through a new lens. It provides a systematic way to evaluate how safe or healthy your workplace is, and how you can make it better.

It gives hope to all of us, who are moving from meeting to meeting, from table to table, or from task to task, that there may be light at the end of the tunnel. Perhaps the most depressing day of the year (if it actually exists) isn’t quite so depressing after all?

As you head to work on Monday be inspired by the standard so you can start to envision what kind of workplace you want. Dream big! Maybe it is possible to have a workplace that respects diversity, promotes balance, and is flexible, safe, healthy and productive? Maybe it is possible to create a culture that is marked by respectful and civility to such an extent that bullying and harassment cannot take root.

Forward-thinking organizations will be sharing their best practices, their challenges and their key learnings at this year’s Bottom Line Conference on March 5 and 6 in Vancouver. Our theme — Workplace Mental Health. It’s Personal — asks each of us to connect to this issue. We all have different reasons to care. Some of us have struggled with an anxiety disorder or depression, while others of us may just want a little more flexibility.

Julia Kaisla
Communuity Engagement Coordinator, Canadian Mental Health Association, BC Division

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