Mental health at work: companies mobilize

For the past 12 years, the Bell Let’s Talk initiative, which tackles the issue of mental health in Canada, has been based on four pillars of action: fighting stigmatization, improving access to care, supporting research, and showing leadership in mental health in the workplace.

For the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal, it is this last piece that for years has prompted our strong, unwavering commitment to this incredible initiative.

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2023

We are gratified to see the extent of mobilization among Montréal businesses for mental health in the workplace. There are an increasing number of initiatives to raise awareness, fight stigmatization, and change attitudes and behavior in the workplace about mental health. The investment of businesses in programs and services to support their employees dealing with mental health issues has grown. But there is still a long way to go to help those experiencing difficulties who can’t get the support they need.

Against this backdrop of mobilization and concrete efforts, we invited businesses to share their mental health initiatives. We will unveil them on the sidelines of Bell Let’s Talk Day, which this year focuses on the mental health crisis we are facing and how we can do more.

Taking care of mental health in companies

We now know that mental health is everyone’s business, employees and employers alike, and that we have a shared responsibility to make clear commitments to support our community. Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) often have a harder time offering their employees mental health support tools. We need to do everything we can to close this gap.

In Quebec, there are many organizations that work to improve the mental health resources available in the workplace, including Relief, a partner of the Chamber and the business community. The Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self-Management, and Work conducted a broad study of 2,500 employees in SMEs across the country to make up for the lack of data about mental health support in their work environments.

Highlights of the study on mental health in Canadian SMEs

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    Nearly a third of employees struggle with anxiety or depression

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    Approximately 22% of employees are experiencing professional burnout

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    Approximately 27% of employees report a sense of well-being

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    Almost half of employees report that the pandemic is having a negative impact on their mental health

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    Two out of five employees believe that disclosing mental health issues in the workplace could lead to being treated differently by their manager

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    Over half of employees feel that psychological health is not sufficiently prioritized in their organization

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    The degree of psychological distress is lower among employees who work on site than those who work remotely

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    Employees in small businesses report less psychological distress than those in medium-sized businesses


This study has resulted in 11 recommendations mainly for small and medium-sized businesses:

  1. Promote overall consideration for mental health, recognizing both the importance of preventing mental health problems and promoting well-being in the workplace.

  2. Reinforce a climate of psychosocial safety in the organization through clear commitments from management to employee mental health.

  3. Pursue preventive efforts to limit psychosocial risks in the workplace.

  4. Increase manager training to implement concrete emotional support practices daily in their interactions with employees.

  5. Make appropriate adjustments to support offered by managers and organizations so that people working largely remotely can have their needs for support met.

  6. Pursue efforts to reduce the stigmatization of mental health issues so that people clearly perceive that revealing their mental health issues will not have a negative impact on their professional life.

  7. Increase the availability of programs for mental health and well-being in the workplace and simplify access to them.

  8. Better consider the needs of different subgroups of employees (youth, racialized people, immigrants) for mental health in the workplace, by encouraging them to help design and implement mental health and well-being promotion programs and initiatives.

  9. In certain industry sectors, develop prevention and promotion programs and initiatives in mental health that are better adapted to organizational contexts and to the sociocultural reference points of the people working there, for example, in the areas of finance and construction.

  10. Improve access to a range of services in mental health and well-being in small businesses, possibly through partnerships with organizations that specialize in mental health.

  11. Offer more practical activities in psychoeducation to make employees aware of the range of self-management strategies in mental health that can be useful and create organizational conditions that foster self-management.

In short, Bell Let’s Talk Day 2023 is an opportunity to think about the place of mental health within one’s organization and take the first step to contributing. Solutions exist and are available to businesses. Let’s mobilize to make mental health everyone’s priority – employees and employers – year-round!

About Bell Let’s Talk

The largest-ever corporate commitment to mental health in Canada, Bell Let's Talk is focused on 4 key action pillars – Anti-stigma, Care and Access, Research and Workplace Leadership and is part of Bell for Better. Since its launch in 2010, Bell Let's Talk has partnered with more than 1,300 organizations providing mental health services throughout Canada, including hospitals, universities, local community service providers and other care and research organizations.

About Relief for Business

Relief offers services to companies and organizations based in Quebec and elsewhere in Canada to support them in creating a healthy, balanced and safe work environment with respect to mental health. The Relief for business program is tailored to senior management, managers, and employees, and features a combination of awareness, training, information, support and intervention, philanthropy, and cutting-edge research.

About the Chamber

With a network of over 8,000 members, the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal is active on three fronts: being the voice of the Montréal business community, delivering specialized services to businesses and their employees, and leading impact initiatives to strengthen the business environment. For 200 years, it has acted on issues that are decisive for the prosperity of the city’s businesses. With the support of its Acclr experts, the Chamber’s goal is to accelerate the creation and growth of businesses of all sizes, at home and around the world.

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