Mental health in the workplace: our workers’ wellbeing is a priority

January 26 was Bell Let’s Talk Day and the Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal marked it by organizing a virtual panel of business leaders who take mental health seriously.

Alongside Michel Leblanc, President and CEO of the CCMM, and Karine Moses, Bell Senior Vice President, Content Development and News and Vice Chair, Québec, our speakers discussed the best mental health practices and the mutual advantages of investing in workers’ wellbeing.

At the virtual table were Martin Enault, Centech Chief Entrepreneur in residence, Danièle Henkel, President of Daniele Henkel Inc. and founder of Henkel média, and Geneviève Provost, Deloitte Managing Partner for Quebec and the National Capital Region.

Talk to raise awareness

The first step in becoming aware of mental health issues is to talk about them; company executives need to talk about them too.

“Leaders must express themselves and be open about their mental health. I have told my employees that I had some weary moments during this pandemic. It’s a way of getting the words out.” – Michel Leblanc, President and Chief Executive Officer, Chamber of Commerce of Metropolitan Montreal

“Mental health problems are not a secret any longer. What we are doing today is really important. But we have to go on talking the next day too, and we have to find solutions at all levels for companies of all different sizes.” – Danièle Henkel, President of Daniele Henkel Inc. and founder of Henkel média

That idea was shared by Geneviève Provost, who is already looking at how to manage post-pandemic mental health:

“The pandemic has made us much more aware of the importance of looking after mental health. Wellbeing is now at the top of everyone’s agenda, including in the corporate world. It’s an issue that will survive long after this crisis passes” – Geneviève Provost, Deloitte Managing Partner for Quebec and the National Capital Region

The pandemic and workers’ mental health: the situation to date

The pandemic generated a lot of unknowns, and human beings are not used to being so destabilized. After the two-year health crisis, Martin Enault, Danièle Henkel and Geneviève Provost agreed that workers’ mental health is at a critical point.

A Deloitte study shows that the pandemic has increased the pressure on managers and affected their mental health. Factors include overwork and the desire to properly support their employees’ wellbeing against a backdrop of uncertainty.

“Instead of taking a reactive approach, we have to work upstream and give our employees all the practical tools they can use to feel better and help everyone around them feel better.” – Martin Enault, Centech Chief Entrepreneur in residence

“Vulnerability is not a weakness, it’s authenticity. We must arm our managers with emotional competence to face this unknown and incomprehensible crisis.” – Danièle Henkel

Solutions for improving workers’ mental health

All three panellists said the same thing: not everyone is able to detect their own mental health issues, which is why it is so important to make workers aware of existing programs.

“Companies have programs that can help workers. Those programs support their human beings, so companies can be productive and successful.” – Danièle Henkel

Ms. Henkel added that mental health initiatives – whether in companies or not – need to be made public in a more personal way. For example, instead of sending a memo to tell employees about a new mental health program, a manager could share his or her own experiences. That narrative approach builds workers’ confidence in mental health initiatives and their employers.

The recommendation fits in well with Deloitte’s internal data:

“We noted a correlation between employee wellbeing and proximity to the leaders. That link is especially strong among our Quebec employees, which makes us think that leaders here are more open than some others.” – Geneviève Provost

Going forward

“It’s important that people be aware. But the managers must be aware too. We need both.” – Martin Enault

The health system has faced serious challenges since the pandemic started. Throughout the conversation, the panellists all said the same thing: we need to go on talking about mental health and documenting it. It will take discussion, listening and taking those issues into account for us to build a system that can fully support workers and their mental health going forward.

The talk is available on the Chamber’s YouTube channel (in French only)

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