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Employers Meet to Learn How to Deal with Mental Health in the Workplace

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Mental Health / Canada

Employers Meet to Learn How to Deal with Mental Health in the Workplace

Experts from Morneau Shepell and Bell offer strategic solutions

TORONTO, Feb. 9, 2012 /CNW/ - Hundreds of business leaders met in Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver yesterday to discuss the issue of mental health in the workplace and what can be done about it. Morneau Shepell, in partnership with Bell Let's Talk, hosted Employers Connect, a multi-city event for workplace mental health in Canada's three largest cities.

"This is an opportunity for us as workplace representatives and employers to speak with each other, share best practices and experiences, start a dialogue, and most importantly, promote action in workplace mental health," said Paula Allen, Vice-President, Health Solutions and Practice Leader, Consulting, Morneau Shepell.

The Toronto event featured keynote speaker Ron Ellis, former member of the Toronto Maple Leafs, who spoke about his battles with depression, and subsequent hospitalizations, after retiring from hockey. In comparing how physical illness and mental illness are treated, he told about the time former Leafs captain Mats Sundin sustained an eye injury, and the team flew him by Lear jet to see the best eye specialist they could find. But it was different when Ellis abruptly retired in 1975 because of depression.

"The Leafs didn't even suggest I talk to the team doctor," Ellis said. "That's not a judgement at all. They let one of their top producers go. It was because of a lack of knowledge about an invisible injury. Today NHL teams have mental health specialists on staff. We've come a long way. At that time I didn't realize that depression was hunting me down."

Allen referred to the 2011 Conference Board of Canada study on mental health in the workplace, which said that 44 per cent of workers had experienced a mental health issue. Said Allen: "How many organizations would feel comfortable not having a strategy for something that impacts 44 per cent of your employee population?"

To see what else Allen and Ellis had to say, please go to:

In Vancouver, the guest speaker was Alex Mitchell, Director of Community Partnerships, Canucks Sports & Entertainment, who discussed the organization's work with raising awareness of mental health in the workplace, and also about former Canucks player Rick Rypien, who suffered from depression and committed suicide last summer.

The Montreal meeting featured keynote speaker Georges Sabongui, a former military psychologist who has done stress-related research with Canada's Armed Forces.

At all three locations, industry experts explained what employers can do to combat mental health in the workplace. Jean-Marc Mackenzie, Senior Vice-President, Health Management, Morneau Shepell, outlined the steps employers can take:

  • Support a practical understanding of mental health in the workplace.
  • Train managers in how to deal with it, including confronting the stigma associated with workplace mental health.
  • Identify at-risk employees and follow up with a needs assessment.
  • Provide support at work during recovery.

Morneau Shepell

Morneau Shepell is the largest Canadian-based firm offering benefits and pension consulting, outsourcing, as well as health and productivity solutions. The company works with clients to develop end-to-end insights and solutions that integrate with their business strategies to achieve results. Through Benefits and Health Solutions Consulting, Pension Consulting, Health Management, Administration Solutions and Shepell•fgi's Employee Assistance Program, Morneau Shepell helps clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity, and improve their competitive positions by supporting their employees' financial security, health and well-being.

Established in 1966, Morneau Shepell serves over 8,000 clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest corporations and associations in North America. With approximately 2,500 employees in offices across North America, we provide services to organizations across Canada, in the United States and around the globe.

Morneau Shepell Inc. is a publicly traded company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For more information, visit

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Jerry Amernic