Looking at mental health in the workplace

Photo: darkismus on Flickr

Mental disorders like depression and anxiety are being examined closely by the workplace safety community in many countries today. At issue is how these disorders can be triggered by bullying, harassment, and other stressful situations in the workplace.

In BC, a new bill – Bill 14 – states that a worker is entitled to compensation where a mental disorder is a reaction to

(i) one or more traumatic events arising out of and in the course of a worker’s employment, or

(ii) a significant work-related stressor, including bullying or harassment, or a cumulative series of significant work-related stressors, arising out of and in the course of the worker’s employment.

Criteria for the diagnosis are laid out and WorkSafeBC has been working on New Occupational Health and Safety Policies on Workplace Bullying and Harassment.

In other countries

This is from the WorkSafeBC paper people are commenting on:

Currently, the United States does not have any legislation that specifically addresses workplace bullying and harassment at the state or federal level. Many states are considering the Healthy Workplace Bill which includes antibullying provisions.

In the United Kingdom, bullying is not specifically mentioned in workplace legislation. However, there are means to obtain legal redress for bullying under The Protection from Harassment Act 1997.

In Australia, some states have introduced anti-bullying laws under their occupational health and safety legislation. There is a draft code of practice called Preventing and Responding to Workplace Bullying issued under the Australian Model Work Health and Safety Act that may be adopted in the future.

Sweden’s anti-bullying legislation focuses on victimization. France amended its Labour Code to include the prevention of psychological harassment in the workplace.

How big is the problem?

Twenty percent of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime, says the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Fast Facts about Mental Illness.

But people are often uncomfortable to bring up mental disorders due to a stigma not attached to other types of illness. Hopefully – with the topic on the table – people can speak more openly about their suffering and issues can be addressed at work.

See WorkSafeBC’s Mental Health Disorders for more information.


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