Respect for mental health in the workplace has been important to the Sklar Wilton & Associates team for many years. It’s baked into the fabric of our culture and is something we actively hire for. Our goal is to foster a healthy workplace environment as well as support any of our colleagues who may be struggling with their mental health. It’s a journey that was inspired by our co-founder Luke Sklar, who spoke openly about his personal battle with depression in the hope that his experience may help others.
Tragically, in 2018, we lost Luke to suicide. Continuing to be inspired by his example, we developed and launched Headway: For Healthy Minds at Work. Headway is a movement to spread awareness and promote mental health best practices, not just at Sklar Wilton, but at companies across Canada.
The moral case for creating a workplace that fosters mental wellness is clear. The major relationships in our lives and the environments we spend time in play a critical role in a person’s mental well-being. In fact, many of us spend more time with our colleagues than with our family and friends. Even though 3 out of 5 employees report experiencing mental health issues because of work, two thirds of Canadians facing mental health challenges do not seek help or use resources available to them.
There is also a robust business case. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, mental illness costs Canadian businesses over $50 billion per year, as much as $1494 per employee, and fewer than one quarter of employees would feel comfortable disclosing a mental illness to their employer. Companies that foster mental wellness would benefit from happier, healthier, and more productive employees as well as higher retention rates.
In May 2019, we hosted the Headway launch event and were honoured by the outpouring of support that followed. Hundreds of Canadian business professionals participated in the event and made their own personal pledge to support healthy minds at work. We intend to keep that momentum going. That’s where you come in. Even if you couldn’t personally attend the event, you can make your Headway pledge for healthy minds at work today. Today is the perfect day to join the movement and take a step towards supporting mental health in the workplace.
Everyone has a role to play in the Headway movement. By nature of their roles, however, business owners and C-suite executives are tasked with the most responsibility and are the core Headway target. We want to help them lead by example and champion decisions that make the biggest impact on healthy workplace environment.
The Headway Community and Action Plan
We will help create change in two ways:
1. We are curating and sharing some of the best Canadian resources to implement mental health best practices in the workplace. We started by building the Resource Roadmap, a list of resources categorized into stages of development of best practices. We also created an employer guide in collaboration with Great Place to Work Canada. We will continue to share new research and resources on the Headway LinkedIn public account.
2. We are supporting a community of people who are committed to create change and support healthy minds at work. The nucleus of this is the Headway LinkedIn group. Everyone is welcome to join the group and share ideas, get feedback, talk about the successes and challenges they’re facing and engage with other leaders who are just as passionate about building a healthy workforce in Canada.
We look forward to hearing about and sharing success stories from organizations in the Headway movement. These stories will encourage other Canadian leaders to take up the challenge to support healthy minds at work.