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The Importance of Improving Your Workplace with Psychological First Aid

- by Christina Hryniuk

By the time you read this blog post 50 workers will have called in to work due to mental health issues.

What we must remember is that mental illness is as real as other physical issues such as heart disease. There is undeniably a connection between mental and physical health.

Mental illness doesn’t just affect someone’s personal mental, physical, and emotional health. It also affects productivity of workplaces, peoples’ jobs, and quality of life.

This week, about 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. In fact, about 70 percent to 90 percent of people with severe mental illnesses are unemployed.

On a yearly basis, 175,000 full-time workers don’t go to work due to mental illness. Mental health is also the leading cause of disability in Canada and the cost of disability leave for a mental illness is double the cost of a leave for a physical illness.


Every year, about 355,000 disability cases are directly linked to mental and/or behavioral disorders. The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that:

  • 82 percent of responding organizations ranked mental health conditions in their top three causes of short-term disability (72 percent for long-term disability).
  • 30 percent of all short- and long-term disability claims are due to mental health problems and illnesses.
  • The average responding organization reported spending more than $10.5 million annually on absence claims.

Unfortunately as well, for truck drivers it is also very difficult to claim Workers Compensation if they suffer a traumatic event at work. So it is vital to have a program that allows employers and employees work through mental health issues and crisis.

RPM will be offering a psychological first aid training

Psychological First Aid training allows individuals to build a self-care plan through understanding and identifying how loss, grief, and stress affect them and in turn how to deal with it. This training also explores how they can care for others by identifying what it looks like when their friend or loved one is experiencing distress. The program focuses on four components including: look, listen, link and live. This means awareness that there is a problem, listening to yourself or others, and linking to resources in your community so that you can live fully.

Psychological First Aid is a resiliency-based program for everyone that offers prevention and coping strategies for dealing with different types of stress resulting from various types of trauma.

According to Trucking HR, more than 300,000 people across Canada in workplaces, schools and communities have received mental health first aid training, resulting in positive and long-lasting effects.


The Benefits of Psychological First Aid

Key outcomes include:

  • Significantly greater recognition of the most common mental health illnesses and problems
  • Decreased social distance from people with mental health illnesses or problems
  • Increased confidence in providing help to others
  • Demonstrated increase in helpful actions

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, there are three main reasons why employers decide to engage in Mental Health First Aid.

For one, the stigma surrounded by mental health problems is reduced. Psychological training makes it easier to communicate with someone experiencing a mental health problem.

Another reason it is beneficial is because one-in-five people will experience a mental health problem this year. Evidence shows that participants increase their awareness of signs and symptoms of the most common mental health problems.

It also increases the confidence participants have in engaging with someone experiencing a mental health problem or crisis.

With RPM’s psychological training you will be able to protect your employees at all levels and create a safe space for them. For more information on when we will be offering psychological first aid training, contact us or call 1-(204)-632-6600.