Sean Healey, Social Worker at Michael Garron hospital, experiences firsthand the complex and emotionally-charged cases healthcare providers manage on a daily basis. (Photo: MGH)
Sean Healey, Social Worker at Michael Garron hospital, experiences firsthand the complex and emotionally-charged cases healthcare providers manage on a daily basis. (Photo: MGH)

Toronto’s Michael Garron Hospital first Canadian hospital to earn Order of Excellence in workplace mental health

(June 27, 2018) TORONTO – Michael Garron Hospital is the first hospital in the country to earn a Canada Order of Excellence from Excellence Canada for its national leadership in workplace mental health.

Most Canadians spend more waking hours at work than anywhere else. According to a Workplace Mental Health Issue Brief published in 2016 by HealthCareCAN, about 500,000 Canadians, including many who work in healthcare, will not make it to work on any given week because of a mental health problem or illness.

With the emotional and psychological pressures of caring for complex patients, lack of time and resources, challenges associated with shift work and adapting to a rapidly changing practice environment, healthcare workers are 1.5 times more likely to be off work due to illness or disability than people in all other sectors. Over 40 per cent of Canadian physicians' and nurses reported advanced stages of burnout.

“There is a significant and urgent need to protect the psychological health and safety of our employees. Healthcare is a demanding environment and patients need healthcare teams who are resilient and healthy,” says Phillip Kotanidis, Chief Human Resources Officer, Michael Garron Hospital.

“In order to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves.”

MGH has continuously demonstrated its ability to anticipate and respond nimbly to the mental, physical and psychological needs of its staff, physicians and volunteers.

Since 2014, MGH has successfully implemented 95 per cent of the recommendations within the Mental Health Commission of Canada's National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (The Standard), a “made-in-Canada” set of guidelines, tools and resources launched in 2013 to help employers promote mental health and prevent psychological harm at work.

Recommendations range from reducing mental health stigma in the workplace, to fostering an inclusive and respectful culture, minimizing the risk of psychological health and safety to employees, and understanding the effects of a trauma-infused environment.

Highlights include:

  • To date, 80 hospital leaders have completed the Leading a Mentally Healthy Workplace Certification, a Queen's University accredited program focusing on mental health stigma, signs and symptoms, coaching and support, accommodation, and return to work.
  • Since 2014, over 912 new hires have attended Emotional Intelligence training.
  • MGH has facilitated over 22 workshops of the new Civil and Respectful Workplace and Harassment and Bullying Prevention training this year.
  • All patient-facing staff participate in mandatory in-person Workplace Violence Prevention workshops in addition to mandatory annual online training for all employees.
  • Since 2015, over 400 staff have completed LGBTQ Inclusivity Training in partnership with The 519.
  • In 2017, MGH was the first Canadian hospital to sign the declaration of commitment to The Standard, publicly declaring its commitment to staff, patients and community.
  • A new Psychological Health and Safety Scorecard enables the hospital to track the effectiveness of planning and programming correlated to the 13 psychosocial factors outlined in The Standard and the basic psychological and self-fulfillment needs defined in Maslow's Hierarchy.

Read a full list of MGH's programs and initiatives here: MGH Canada Order of Excellence Mental Health at Work.

Sean Healey, social worker at MGH experiences firsthand the complex and emotionally-charged cases healthcare providers manage on a daily basis. As an inpatient social worker on the child and adolescent mental health unit, Sean supports families through traumatic events, often when they've seen their child undergo their first major psychiatric episode.

Sean describes the impact of workplace mental health using the example of an oxygen mask on an airplane: if you don't secure the oxygen mask on yourself first, you will not be able to help the person sitting next to you.

The same applies in a healthcare setting.

“Health care practitioners in hospitals will sometimes experience events that can be quite traumatic – for example, a workplace violence incident where someone you work with is harmed,” says Sean, who supports his own mental health as a member and spin instructor for the hospital's wellness program.

“It's so important for the hospital to react quickly, to offer immediate debriefing sessions and on-site support. People don't always feel comfortable coming forward, but when you create a culture without stigma, they can get the help they need to do their jobs safely and effectively.”

Through its Mental Health at Work® Program, Excellence Canada is the only organization that certifies employers in meeting the requirements of The Standard.

MGH welcomed Excellence Canada to the hospital for a site visit on June 13, where focus groups were held with employees at all levels of the organization to ensure workplace mental health practices and initiatives were embedded in the hospital's culture and sustainable in its daily operations.

“What makes MGH unique is its uncompromising support for its people, their wellbeing and mental health,” says Alan Ebedes, CEO of Excellence Canada.

“They have evolved to world-class standing as a recognized leader for workplace mental health, standing out for their exemplary people practices and relentless pursuit for excellence.”

MGH will be honoured with the Canada Order of Excellence award in Toronto on Nov. 6, 2018.

About Michael Garron Hospital
Nestled in the heart of East Toronto, Michael Garron Hospital (MGH), Toronto East Health Network, is a vibrant community teaching hospital serving more than 400,000 people in 22 distinct neighbourhoods. For more than 89 years, MGH has delivered high-quality, patient-centred healthcare services to families along the continuum of care, from welcoming a new life to facing end-of-life. MGH has continually renewed its commitment to community by adapting its programs and services to meet the evolving needs of the diverse population it serves. Located in the Toronto Central Local Health Integration Network, MGH is a respected full-service hospital with strong community and research partners, including the University of Toronto.

Media contact
Erica Di Maio
Senior Consultant, Corporate Communications
Michael Garron Hospital | Toronto East Health Network
Tel: 437-993-8419| Email: @email

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