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C-suite challenged to make mental health a priority

Sun Life, CAMH challenge employers to invest more, urge senior leaders to take issue seriously


October 5, 2020
By Talent Canada Staff

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Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians say their mental health has suffered during the pandemic, according to a recent Sun Life survey.

As World Mental Health Day on Oct. 10 approaches, the insurance carrier is urging Canadian companies to join them in creating mentally healthy workplaces by deepening investments in workplace mental health support and elevating it as a priority for the C-suite.

Canada was already facing a mental health crisis prior to COVID-19. The pandemic has amplified the crisis, and poses potential mental health impacts for years to come,” says Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Canada and Lumino Health. “To restart Canada’s economy successfully, we need to do everything we can – as leaders – to empower our workforces in managing their wellbeing and creating healthier work environments. We can’t wait for the pandemic to be over to invest in mental health support. We know human resource professionals are already focused on mental health”

“To accelerate meaningful and sustainable action, C-suite leaders need to make this a priority,” says Goulet.

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Deborah Gillis, president and CEO of the CAMH Foundation, says employee mental health is still “one of the most important issues” facing employers.

“As we navigate the future of work, business leaders have an opportunity – and a responsibility – to prioritize workplace mental health and help each and every employee reach their full potential,” says Gillis. “Creating this kind of change takes strong leadership, teamwork and commitment. We hope that more organizations will join CAMH and Sun Life in creating mentally healthy and psychologically safe workplaces across the country.”

Businesses are encouraged to download CAMH’s Workplace Mental Health Playbook for Business Leaders for research-informed recommendations on creating mentally healthier workplaces.

What Sun Life does for its employees

“Supporting the mental health of our own employees has been a focus for Sun Life and the pandemic has deepened that commitment,” says  Goulet. “Ensuring every employee is able to bring their best selves to work is critical to our business and sustainability strategies.”

Sun Life’s mental health strategy includes leading mental health benefits for employees, a focus on data and mandatory mental health training for leaders. Sun Life conducts regular employee pulse surveys to check in and inform the mental health strategy on an ongoing basis, adapting to evolving needs. In the most recent survey, more than 90 per cent of Sun Life Employees say they have confidence senior leaders will prioritize their mental health and wellbeing.

To further support wellness during the pandemic, Sun Life has initiated a number of innovative actions. For example, it doubled personal emergency days from five to 10, offered three wellness days, enabled flexible work schedules, mandated lunch hours and Fridays as ‘meeting free’ and provided access to Sun Life’s team of in-house psychologists through regular webinars.