HSO is reflecting today, Bell Let’s Talk Day, on how it creates meaningful change when it comes to the mental health and well-being of its employees and embedding these critical aspects of health in our work. Bell Let’s Talk Day highlights the importance of mental health and addiction supports and raises awareness of community organizations and programs that help people access the care they need.

Good mental health for our employees is very important to HSO. Our vision of Safer Care. A Healthier World includes mental wellness.

“We are proactive in looking after employee wellness throughout the year as it is not always obvious that someone may be struggling,” Valerie da Silva, HSO Director of Talent Management, explained. “People face pressure in different ways all the time, and it’s often invisible. We have to constantly seek out information and not wait for people to come to us.”

One in three Canadians will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime, and 21% will meet the criteria for addiction. One of the ways that HSO is addressing and providing adequate support is through employee surveys that help assess psychological health and safety. The resulting reports identify areas where we are doing well and where we should focus our efforts and implement appropriate tools and resources to adequately support our employees.

Last year, employees took the Guarding Minds at Work survey, which looks at 13 psychosocial factors that impact psychological health and safety. The survey had an overwhelming response rate, with nearly 80% of our employees giving feedback on their experiences.

HSO also partnered with the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI) in 2022 to better understand our strengths and find opportunities to improve inclusion, diversity, equity and accessibility within our work environment. Issues around inclusion strongly impact employees’ sense of psychological health and safety. We are committed to creating and sustaining a culturally safe and inclusive workplace, as noted in our Strategy 2022-2026. It is one of the ways we live our values of Learning and Inclusion.

Our employees can tell us what they need through a Psychological Health Working Group, composed of members from all levels of the organization. This group listens to colleagues who share their experiences at work and discusses ways the organization can address issues that arise. They also suggest ways HSO can promote a healthier workforce. To be sure we are getting results, we also do a formal quarterly Psychological Health Pause. This quarterly check-in allows us to understand employee sentiment regarding workplace well-being, and it helps identify issues employees may be having.

To nurture mental health and well-being at HSO through a healthy work–life balance, we have woven in employee supports throughout the organization, including embracing flexible working arrangements with a hybrid model and promoting ‘Personal Responsibility Leave.’ Based on an employee’s recommendation, we recently changed the name and purpose of these days from ‘Family Responsibility’ to acknowledge that people often support members of their communities outside their direct families. Adopting a continuous feedback method enables us to adapt processes better to meet employees’ current needs.

Last year, HSO embraced disconnecting from work with an organizational policy that reinforces the importance of employees maintaining a healthy boundary between work and personal time to promote a better work–life balance. We’re committed to offering an innovative workplace that inspires people and encourages them to grow professionally and personally by putting their wellness first.

Mental health and addiction supports are a fundamental part of health care and are most clearly covered in our strategic priority to “Improve patient and workforce safety.” HSO’s commitment to mobilize efforts to support mental health and addiction is demonstrated through our standards, assessment programs and other quality improvement initiatives designed to help save and improve lives. An example is the 2023 release of the new Mental Health and Addiction Services Standard (CAN/HSO 22004:2022) and Suicide Prevention Program (CAN/HSO 5064:2022).

If you are looking for a place to get help or want to maintain good mental health, you can visit the Bell Let’s Talk website to see their tools and resources. You can also contact your local Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) office. To find the branch closest to you, please visit their website.

If you are in crisis, please call 911 or visit your nearest emergency department.