Toronto East General Hospital (TEGH) adopted the proactive definition of mental health put forward by the World Health Organization: “A state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.” Therefore, TEGH expanded the staff, physician and volunteer wellness program to ensure that a proactive and holistic approach to health had a strong focus on mental wellness.

The mental wellness strategy was developed as a response to feedback received through various staff satisfaction surveys. Prior to the expansion of the wellness program, results of TEGH’s employee engagement surveys indicated that staff wanted access to more comprehensive mental health resources, and that such a program would help to improve staff engagement and job satisfaction. Similarly, the results of TEGH’s annual wellness survey indicated that there was room for improvement in the area of mental health in the workplace.

In order to realize this vision of mental wellness in the workplace, TEGH has adopted an organization-wide strategy focused on the four pillars of a healthy workplace. – Education & Awareness – Recognition & Prevention – Management & Healing – Positive Workplace Culture Each pillar is associated with three goals, which are monitored and measured to targets creating a comprehensive wellness strategy. Since introducing the Mental Wellness Strategic Plan in 2010, TEGH has seen mental health claims from employees drop from 44% to 26%. In addition, 79% of employees rated TEGH as a positive place to work, compared with 74% across Ontario hospitals.

The primary benefit of the program is a change in the workplace culture of the hospital to one that promotes a holistic approach to wellness in a meaningful way. This proactive attitude towards mental wellness is in place throughout the organization, beginning with leaders setting an example and considering psychological health and safety in all decision making and policy revision.

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