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May 1, 2023 | Blog

Psychological Health and Safety: Why it matters and what you can do about it 

By Erin O’Byrne, Work Wellness Coach and Vantage Point Knowledge Philanthropist 

Well-being at work is increasingly on the radar as humanity continues to navigate life after the pandemic. As the stressful strain of limited financial resources places even more demands on our human resources, psychological health & safety is at the forefront. As leaders in non-profits, you especially know the importance of taking care of your people. 

The Mental Health Commission set national standards for psychological health and safety a decade ago. You can read about the standard here. As a voluntary standard, some workplaces were early adopters, others dabbled, and some only started investing in the last few years based on the rising need. WorkSafe BC also helped make this priority through their education initiatives and by including elements in inspections for some industries these past few years. You can read more about their strategic initiatives here. 

While there are vast resources available to support psychological health and safety there is a lot to navigate and integrate successfully into your workplace and for all your volunteers. 

Often organizations and leaders are not sure where to start. 

As a mental health strategist and coach, I help organizations review, design and implement these standards successfully. Here are three tips to get you started: 

1. Get familiar with the 13 factors that lead to psychological health and safety. 

When you review this list what are the top two to three your organization does well?  

Where would change have the most impact?  

You can read more about each factor here. Recently indicators of inclusion, stress and trauma are included within these factors. 

  • Organizational Culture 
  • Psychological and Social Support 
  • Clear Leadership & Expectations 
  • Civility & Respect 
  • Psychological Demands
  • Growth & Development 
  • Recognition & Reward 
  • Involvement & Influence 
  • Workload Management 
  • Engagement 
  • Balance 
  • Psychological Protection 
  • Protection of Physical Safety 

There are many opportunities for implementing the standard in your organization. The Mental Health Commission has put together a guide to support the process. You can read about it here. At first glance it is a lot of information. Pick one or two areas as part of your annual mental health strategy.  

2. Focus on leadership development

We know that for the most part people leave managers not companies. In a world that is constantly asking people to do more with less, we’ve got to prioritize conversations around wellness. This is tough since everyone’s threshold for stress is different as is our comfort in talking about it all.  

  • As a leader do you truly understand how each of your team members are doing?  
  • Do you have enough rapport where they feel safe to really share?  
  • How about the collective capacity of your teams at any given time?  
  • How comfortable are you talking about mental health stressors and challenges?  
  • What do you do to proactively lead by example, to promote wellness?  

Considering these will help inform your action plans and leadership development needs. 

Along with soft skills, as a workplace culture you’ll want to look at policies, systems and processes, resources and training too. Your Employee Assistance Program and any wellness initiatives you offer go a lot further if behaviours of leaders and the structure of your organization can help foster an integrated and truly lived culture of care and support: proactively. After all, the wellness of your people makes for wellness in the community. Healthy organizations have a healthy impact on individuals and the collective.

3. Take action and share best practice

All workplaces seek to find their way to better and are at varied stages of this discovery. Mental health and wellness is vital. Share what works. Get ideas from other leaders. Keep talking. Need more ideas? Recent research from Deloitte highlights some helpful insights and action items. You can read more here.

Given these three tips, what’s your next step? 


Erin O’Byrne, Work Wellness Coach is dedicated to helping individuals and organizations take their wellness to the next level. workwellnesscoach.com

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From Strong to Abundant

Building from a strong foundation of excellent governance, leadership, planning, and people practices, Abundant Not-For-Profits create meaningful o…

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