Mental Health

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health or addiction problem, and by the time Canadians reach 40 years of age, 50% of Canadians will have or have had a mental illness. (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), 2016)  In some occupations, the rate of mental illness or injury is higher because of exposures to traumatic events, cumulative or vicarious trauma. This section explores a wide array of mental health topics including signs and symptoms, the mental health continuum, stigma, and self-care.

5 Factors that Impact your Level of Satisfaction with your Work

Do you ever come home from work feeling unsatisfied? Do you ever dread going to work in the morning? Find out the top 5 factors from our Healthy Worker Survey that you identified impact your level of satisfaction with your current
position and some ways to enhance those areas.

These are the top 5 factors that, you identified, impact your level of satisfaction with your work:

  • Relationship with your manager
  • Workload
  • Relationship with your co-workers
  • Compensation
  • Flexibility (hours, location)

 

Now, what can we do about them?

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Mind over Matter: how mindfulness can improve your life

The concept of mindfulness once associated with Buddhism, The Beatles and transcendental meditation. Today, mindfulness is a serious topic of research in the medical community, as a mounting body of evidence demonstrates that it can have a powerful effect on healthy living. This includes physical health as well as mental health. From helping people face the challenges of stress reduction to treating individuals with serious mental health issues, mindfulness is proving to be one of the most adaptive remedies for a range of wellness issues. But what is mindfulness, and how does it work?

Benefits of mindfulness

  • Stress management - numerous studies point to meditation to reduce anxiety and increase positive affect.
  • Reduced anxiety – research shows that meditation contributes to faster recovery after a negative provocation.
  • Reduced symptoms of depression – it has been shown to reduce symptoms and recurrence rates in people suffering from depression.
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Are you moving enough at work? Create a Walking Group!

To lead a healthy lifestyle, it is recommended that adults get 150 minutes of heart-pumping action each week. Learn how to take physical activity into your workplace by starting a walking group and adding movement into your workday with these healthy tips.

Build movement into your workday by:

  • Starting a walking group at work
  • Taking stretch breaks throughout the day
  • Have standing, or walking, meetings
  • Take the stairs
  • Build more walking and exercise into your commute
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Are You a Nomophobiac? How to Identify and Treat Smartphone Addiction

Smartphones have become an important part of our lives. We use them for emergencies, GPS tracking, entertainment, to access apps, read the news, keep up with friends and family and make phone calls. Smartphones keep us in tune and in touch. They have become as essential to our lives as breathing. But have they become too essential? Have you used your phone in any of the following circumstances?

Have you ever used your phone in the following circumstances?

  •  over dinner
  •  in a movie theatre
  •  while driving
  •  in the shower
  •  in church
  •  at a child’s school function
  •  on a dinner date
  •  during sex

If so, you might be a smartphone addict, or even a nomophobiac (suffering from no-mobile-phobia, the fear of being away from your phone).

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How to Cope with Burnout

Work-related burnout is the inability to manage work demands that exceed your ability to cope – is often due to diminished resources: diminishing time, mental and energetic resources, and often a consequent diminishment in the willingness to invest the effort needed to complete work tasks.

Researchers developed a new model called SOC: a combined use of Selection, Optimization and Compensation. These strategies, alone or in combination, were found to buffer the unfavorable effects of burnout. The SOC model was developed partly to explain how individuals might deal with diminishing resources that come with illness or physical deterioration – conditions that are especially applicable to aging workers. It consists of the following management strategies:

  • Selection: This involves selecting the goals to pursue – acknowledging that you can’t accomplish everything – and then setting goal priorities. It may involve abandoning nonimportant or less important goals.
  • Optimization: This is about optimizing and using goal-relevant means. For example, it may mean learning new procedures for performing certain tasks, or making other attempts at adaptation.
  • Compensation: This involves using compensatory means to maintain goal attainment when previously employed resources are no longer available or blocked. It might entail using external aid.
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What does it take to be Happy? It’s a Simple Formula!

Happiness may be elusive, but there is one thing we know for sure: being healthy makes you happy, and being happy makes you healthy. Being happy and healthy propels you to face the world in a positive way, every day. Just having a reason to smile lowers your blood pressure, combats stress and boosts your immune system. It builds confidence, and that helps you to achieve your goals. Best of all, it’s contagious: being happy makes other people happy. So how do you get there?

Here are seven behaviours that make up the happiness formula:

  • Letting Go
  • Staying Connected
  • Getting Involved
  • Being a Kid Again
  • Buying Time, Not Things
  • Getting Some Exercise
  • Finding Meaningful Work
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Benefits of Practicing Yoga

Stress is a killer. It can cause a variety of musculo-skeletal disorders, from back pain, and carpal tunnel syndrome to shoulder and neck tension. It can cause eye strain, chronic fatigue, gastrointestinal disturbances and headaches, and chronic stress is the leading cause of anxiety and depression.

Increasingly, medical researchers are studying ways to cope with stress that do not involve medical or pharmacological intervention, and one of these remedies is yoga. Research shows that practicing yoga has the power to beat stress, along with a myriad of health concerns that are caused by stress.

Yoga can:

  • Relieve stress
  • Treat musculo-skeletal disorders, from back pain to neck tension
  • Relax the body and mind
  • Fight pain
  • Relieve tension and reduce the risk of injury
  • Make you a better communicator
  • Promote the act of self-compassion
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Domestic violence at work: Supporting your colleague

Domestic violence constitutes the behavior and actions of one person to gain control and power over someone they are involved with in an intimate or personal relationship. Such behavior includes physical, sexual, emotional, verbal and intellectual abuse and violence. It can be prevalent at work and remain hidden from everyone where a fellow worker can be the victim, or even the abuser. When signs of domestic violence appear at work, it may create a situation where the employees or employer would have to step in to support the victim or handle the abuser. Not only does this create a difficult situation for the worker involved in domestic violence, but it can also be a safety risk for other workers. The question remains, how can you help your fellow worker?

How to help:

Your colleague can be the victim or the abuser, and so there are different ways to approach each situation and help your colleague. The key step is to observe and identify signs of domestic violence at work place such as abuser harassing worker at the workplace, victim showing signs of physical abuse or emotional abuse, or the prolonged absence and mood changes of the victim. Other methods include:

  • If colleague is the victim:
    • Gently initiate the conversation, and give them time to open up
    • Listen patiently, do not judge
    • Encourage sharing with employer or contacting support services
    • DO NOT encourage their confrontation with abuser. Their safety and yours is the most important
  • If colleague is the abuser:
    • Approach your observations when they are calm but do not accuse
    • Inform your employer or support services or the police of your observations
    • DO NOT get involved in a direct confrontation or physical violence with them- Keep yourself safe
    • Share information on support services and resources available for them  
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Do you know about your workplace wellness programs?

Wellness programs and initiatives have become a trend among employers in hopes to better the quality of life of their employees, create a healthy culture and save on future health care costs. The benefit of any program however is dependent on employees’ participation, among other things. Research shows that many are not even aware of what their employer offers and the wellness programs available to them, and when they are, not everyone participates. Here is why you should become aware, and participate in your workplace wellness programs and take advantage of what your employer is offering: 

5 reasons to participate in workplace wellness programs

  • Better overall wellbeing – wellness programs have positive affect on physical, social, and mental wellbeing
  • Increased productivity – with better health and work-life balance, employees are shown to miss less days of work due to sickness, and be more productive
  • Better sense of community – when employees participate together 
  • Healthy work culture – your participation and enthusiasm can contribute to better health culture at the workplace 
  • Ownership of your health – say yes to making healthy choices by participating

 

Read more to see what action you can take to get most out of your workplace wellness programs.

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How mindfulness works

Mindfulness is a state that involves the self-regulation of attention, allowing you to focus on the present moment and experience thoughts and sensations objectively, with curiosity, openness and acceptance, with the ultimate goal of controlling your reaction to those thoughts and sensations. The more you practice mindfulness, the better it works, and the greater the benefits.

Principles of good mindfulness practice

  • Paying attention to the moment-to-moment details of experience
  • Paying particular attention to the body and one’s experience of it
  • Recognizing the experience of mind and not getting caught in memories of the past or plans for the future
  • Trying neither too much nor too little
  • Letting go of distractions and paying attention to the present moment
  • Noticing one's experience without judging it
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Meditate your way to accident prevention

We know that practicing mindfulness improves both mental and physical health because it strengthens the part of the brain that helps you cope with anxiety, improves your eating habits and prepares you to face the unexpected without fear. It is not surprising, then, that there is a correlation between mindfulness and safety prevention. Researchers studying the effects of mindfulness have noted response mechanisms to various stimuli, that imply it can help prevent accidents.

Practicing meditation

  • Pay attention to details
  • Stay in the moment
  • Stay alert to stimuli without reacting emotionally
  • Be receptive to new information and ways of interpreting that information
  • Try not to over-plan everything. Most plans are too specific and prevent you from acting in the moment in response to new information.
  • Pay particular attention to the body and your experience of it
  • Face your thoughts, sensations and external stimuli objectively and non-judgmentally
  • Be aware of unexpected or negative stimuli without practicing avoidance
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How to Beat the Burnout Blues

Feeling overextended at work? Burnout is a growing problem among office workers. It results from an accumulative overload of occupational stress, and causes adversarial mental or physical health conditions. When a person’s adaptive capabilities are overextended, repeatedly, burnout can occur. Researcher Evangelia Demerouti, who authored an article in the European Journal of Clinical Investigation identifies burnout as “intensive physical, affective and cognitive strain that is a longterm consequence of adverse working conditions.”

Here are some steps you can take to beat the burnout blues

  • Take Action and try Job Crafting
  • Take Time to Recover
  • Be Positive
  • Make Time for Exercise
  • Eat Well
  • Be Mindful or Spiritual
  • Laugh
  • Nurture Professional Relationships
  • Seek Help
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How Swimming is like Meditation

The physical health benefits of swimming are well known. It improves circulation, works the main muscle groups, lowers cholesterol and boosts cardiovascular health. Exercising in water can also be an important proponent of mental health. The rhythmic breathing and repetitive nature of swimming can have a meditative quality that promotes feelings of well being. Even light exercise in a swimming pool can help to decrease anxiety, heal depression and improve your general mood.

It’s all about the breathing. The rhythmic breathing, synchronized with repetitive strokes and body position in swimming can have a meditative quality. Here is how to make the most of it:

  • Inhale when your head is out of the water and exhale when your head is in the water.
  • We normally inhale and exhale on a one-to-one ratio, but in the pool, it’s better to breathe at a two-to-one ratio, with the exhale lasting twice as long as the inhale.
  • Completely exhale while your face is in the water so that when you come up, you’ll be ready for air intake.
  • Exhale through the nostrils to avoid swallowing water.
  • Establish a rhythm, synchronizing your breathing with the movements of your body.
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Beating Blue Monday Blues

Blue Monday. The third Monday in January is designated as the most depressing day of the year is not actually founded in scientific research, but it has still be adopted as factual.  The days are long, the jovial holidays have passed and it’s cold and bleak outside.  These factors can impact how we are feeling so here are some tips on how to beat the Blue Monday Blues. Not all of these suggestions will work for everyone, but it is important to find what works for you.

Tips for beating Blue Monday Blues

  • Stay Positive and Be Grateful
  • Bundle Up and Embrace the Cold
  • Smile
  • Flame the Friendship Fire
  • Get Some Sleep
  • Be Future Focused
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Don’t let chronic pain take over your work

Have you been suffering from prolonged chronic pain? Do you feel that medication and treatment was inadequate? Is your everyday life being effected? Managing chronic pain can be complicated and frustrating, because such pain is unpredictable, invisible and not always caused by a single reason. Chronic pain is also associated with mental health issues, and the inability to perform everyday tasks.  

Managing chronic pain may be a long term struggle but it is not impossible.

Here are some tips to help self-manage chronic pain at work, and prevent it from hindering your activities and job tasks:   

  • Set small, achievable goals and take your time – Don’t give up!
  • Gentle and frequent exercise
  • Maintain a healthy lifestyle- explore new hobbies, meditation and nutritional diet.
  • Talk to a professional about other forms of treatment and therapies
  • Focus on yourself, take time out for family and plan activities around your needs or pain management schedule
  • Openly communicate your ongoing pain condition and any changes with your boss
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Coming Back from a Vacation the Smart Way

Vacations are great for our mental health, but the transition back to work can end up being an overwhelming ordeal. You may think that now that you are well rested, you are ready to get back to work and be as productive as humanly possible. On the flip side you may be dragging your feet back to your workplace wishing you were back on the beach. While attitude does matter, first day back will probably be stressful in either case. To alleviate the stress all you have to do is plan your return before you leave on vacation. Your efforts of planning ahead will welcome you back with a smooth transition, and time to share highlights of your trip.

To do before you leave on vacation for a smoother return back to the workplace:

  • Make a list of projects and tasks you’re working on, note their status and priority
  • Delegate time sensitive tasks to coworkers
  • Set an Out-of-the-Office email responder
  • Clean your desk and living space to come back to a clean environment
  • Reschedule any meeting from the first day back to the second day
  • Book in a time for catching up with your supervisor/colleagues about any changes or updates
  • Book in a time to declutter your email on the first day back
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Active Aging and Acting Your Age

Have you ever wondered how some people manage to look ageless? Well into their 80s, they have a youthfulness that belies their age, and still participate in activities that younger adults enjoy. There are many factors affecting how we age, including financial security, but aging well, without mental and physical stress on our bodies, is within the reach of us all. Through a few simple daily practices and preventive measures, we can experience our senior years with a quality of life, rather than simply clinging to life.

Tips for aging successfully:

  • Prevention: Many diseases in later life are preventable through even minor lifestyle changes, even for people with chronic disabilities.
  • Nutrition: Nutrition is an important component of aging well, since it improves physical well-being while regulating stress and promotes social inclusion and participation.
  • Physical activity: Physical activity reduces by about 50% the risk of many disorders related to inactivity, such as heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Mental health: Total health is not merely about the absence of infirmity or disease but a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being.
  • Join a program: In Canada, the New Horizons for Seniors Program is designed to empower seniors, encouraging them to share their knowledge, skills and experience with others in the community and enhance their social well-being.
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Are you a Tall Poppy? Beware of Poppy Shearers!

“Tall poppies” is a term that originated in Australia to describe a phenomenon that is by no means restricted to that continent. It happens when a high achiever who rises above the rest – like a poppy that grows taller than the others in a field – becomes vulnerable to those who want to undermine or destroy their achievements or reputation. “In a society that prides itself on egalitarian principles, rising above the pack is considered antisocial and countercultural,” says Carol Vallone Mitchell, author of a book on the subject.[1] “Tall poppies generate hostility and elicit a host of undermining behaviors to bring them down a peg,” she says.

Here are a few ways to deal with situations where you feel someone is trying to “tall poppy” you.

Remember, if the situation is one that is a course of harassing behavious, you should follow your organizations violence and harassment protocols to address this situation.

 

  • Depending on the severity of a comment that is being made about you, one option is to rise above it and ignore it.
  • Social media attacks can be painful because they are so public. The best response to being trolled is to unfriend or block the perpetrator and move on, rather than responding and lowering yourself to their level.
  • If the social is serious – if someone is threatening your life or safety, take it to the police, tell your employer and, if appropriate, alert your social media provider.
  • If you are being slandered or falsely accused of something, seek legal advice.
  • Surround yourself with people who support rather than try to tear down your cause.
  • Sometimes we witness or hear other people being criticized or gossiped about. Do not indulge the naysayer by engaging in the conversation, and do not repeat it.
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Stopping Stigma

It’s a fact… 1 in 5 Canadians experience mental illness. That is why it is important to take steps to stop stigma in the workplace. Here are six tips for creating an open and supportive workplace culture.

Tips for creating an open and supportive workplace culture

  • Educate and Inform
  • Create an environment where everyone can discuss mental health and wellness
  • Talk about mental health using respectful language and positive self-talk
  • Show you care - ask coworkers how they are doing, share your experiences
  • Be discreet – keep conversations confidential.
  • Encourage help seeking behavious
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How Happy are You?

In the movies, existential anguish is considered heroic and deep. In real life, the goal is to experience as much happiness as possible, to be at peace with the world and grateful for what we have. But how does one define happiness? What are the basic principles of living a happy life. Here is a look at how researchers define happiness.

 

The word happiness is synonymous with quality of life or well-being. It denotes that a life is good – but what is good about that life? According to research published recently in the International Journal of Psychology, there are certain elements conducive to happiness:

Research has shown that, among populations, the following elements contribute to life’s happiness:

  • Wealth
  • Freedom of Choice
  • Equality
  • Security
  • Institutional Quality
  • Modernity
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Social Participation
  • Intimate Ties
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Mother Nature Knows Best – The Importance of Getting Green Exercise

Remember when your mother used to say, “go outside and play in the fresh air. It will do you some good!” She was right. Many of modern society’s most urgent physical health challenges, including obesity and coronary heart disease, are connected to sedentary and indoor lifestyles. Research now confirms that exercise performed in conjunction with exposure to nature, known as green exercise, has been associated with a variety of psychological and physiological benefits. Evidence indicates that exercising in a natural environment improves mood, and attention span, lowers heart rate and blood pressure, and relieves stress. Not only does green exercise have a therapeutic effect, helping us to recover from pre-existing stresses or problems, it can have an immunizing effect, protecting us from future stresses and the diseases caused by stress – particularly from cardiovascular disease.

The Therapeutic Effects of Green Exercise:

  • Relieve stress
  • Improve your mood
  • Help recover from injury or burnout
  • Have an immunizing effect against diseases
  • Prevent cardiovascular disease
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Improve stamina
  • Prevent obesity
  • Treat depression
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Chronic pain needs work accommodations

Do you feel upset or frustrated that you are unable to meet your deadlines or participate fully at work due to your chronic pain issues? Chronic pain has a widespread effect on personal, psychological, social and work life. It hinders the ability to complete tasks, makes it challenging to meet deadlines and can create negative feelings or misunderstandings at the work place. Over time, chronic pain becomes an invisible disability creating barriers in achieving goals with the need to be self-managed on an everyday basis. 

An important aspect of managing chronic pain includes managing it at the work place using specific accommodations.

Work accommodations focus on improving or maintaining productivity levels and takes into account the worker’s health. Some examples of useful work accommodations include:

Honest disclosure of challenges or change in condition with management Flexible and changed job design   Replace the equipment and modify workstations Change task intensity and  break tasks into smaller projects Flexible work hours and location – work from home initiative Support groups & resources for workers facing similar concerns  

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External Links

Heads Up Guys

Based out of The University of British Columbia this site is focused on helping men establish health strategies for managing depression. It provides information about depression in men, suicide, risk factors and triggers.

You may find this site useful if you want:

  • to understand what depression is and how it can impact you
  • practical tips and other information on how to take action
  • access information, campaigns and real life stories
  • to help your family member
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Canadian Mental Health Association

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), founded in 1918, is one of the oldest voluntary organizations in Canada. As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness.

On this site you will find

  • Information about mental health and access to mental health assessment tools
  • Mental health programs for workplaces
  • Research and other information
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Stress Index

In 2014, 23.0% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. Since 2003, females were more likely than males to report that most days were ‘quite a bit’ or ‘extremely stressful’. In 2014, the rate for females was 23.7%, while for males the rate was 22.3%.

What's your stress index?

The link below will take you to the Canadian Mental Health Association stress index which will provide you feedback based on your self-assessment.

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Towards a Psychologically Safer Workplace

Dr. Martin Shain S.J.D. created this very informative Employers Guide which focuses on steps an employer can take to help meet the minimum requirements for providing a psychologically safe workplace.  It is a great resource to get you started down the path of creating  a  Psychologically Safe Workplace -  one in which every reasonable effort is made to protect the mental health of employees and to prevent mental injury.

In this resource you will find

  • Guideline for creating a culture where employees feel safe to speak up
  • Information about the key elements of interpersonal competence
  • How to look for early warning signs of conflict and distress, and patterns of negative conduct among employees
  • Sample Policy for Psychological Safety at Work
  • Sample Policy for Workplace Harrassment
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Australian Government Healthy Workers Initiative

This web site is designed for employers and includes a range of information and resources to assist with making workplaces healthier. Have information for both employers and employees

You may find this site useful if you want to learn more about

  • Moving more
  • Eating well
  • Maintaining healthy weight
  • Alcohol use
  • Being smoke free
  • How to create a healthy workplace
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Mental Health Meter

Understanding the characteristics that make up good mental health will help you determine how mentally fit you are.  This mental health meter helps you explore your personal characteristics of mental health and provides feedback based on your scores.

The characteristics of mental health are

  • Ability to enjoy life
  • Resilience
  • Balance
  • Self-Actualization
  • Flexibility

Click on the link below to take the mental health meter.

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10 Ted Talks for When You are Feeling Burned out

As the TED Talk summary says these talks are for when you are feeling worn out, exhausted and bleary-eyed… they are a little something to ease your frustration and get you feeling better.

Topics covered include:

  • 10 minutes of mindfulness – Andy Puddicombe
  • How to make stress your friend – Kelly McGonigal
  • The power of time off – Stefan Sagmeister
  • Flow, the secret to happiness – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
  • The Art of Stillness – Pico Iyer
  • Wait it Out – Imogen Heap
  • Your elusive creative genius – Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Are you Human – Ze Frank
  • How to Succeed? Get More sleep – Arianna Huffington
  • The happy secret to better work – Shawn Achor
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My Health Matters

My Health Matters delivers health information based on your personal health priorities and your individual life stage. Our articles, videos, recipes and interactive tools will help you manage and improve your health. All the content is developed and written specifically for women by the experts at Women's College Hospital

You may find this site useful if you want:

  • Search health related content by your age
  • Identify health priorities
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Work Life Balance Quiz

More than ever before, Canadians play many different roles in their lives. They are workers, parents, spouses, friends, caregivers of elderly relatives and volunteers in their communities. They must also make room in their lives for taking care of their own physical and mental well-being. Not surprisingly, achieving balance among all these competing priorities can be difficult.

But, as difficult as work/life balance is to define, most of us know when we’re out of balance. To find out more about your own personal balance:

  • Complete the Work-Life Balance Quiz
  • Tips and Resources to make your work-life balance better

Click on the link below.

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8 Workplace Practices for Improved Mental Health

A psychologically healthy workplace is a respectful and productive environment that makes every reasonable effort to promote and protect the mental health of employees. This info graphic prepared by Employment and Social Services Development Canada includes 8 Practices to improve mental health in the workplace. Flip the card to read more and download the infographic.

These practices include:

  • Support employee participation and decision-making
  • Define employees' duties and responsibilities
  • Promote work-life balance
  • Encourage and model respectful behaviours
  • Manage workloads
  • Provide training and learning opportunities
  • Have conflict resolution practices in place
  • Recognize employees' contributions effectively
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