Sustainable Agriculture Institute
Mental Health Policy
Policy brief & purpose
SAI’s Mental Health Policy outlines our provisions to prevent and address mental health issues among our employees.
Mental health is just as important as physical health. Mental illness may be detrimental to a person, as it impact happiness, productivity and collaboration.
Mental health issues may affect companies, in the form of:
- Poor employee performance
- Employee substance abuse
- Work-related accidents
- Workplace violence or harassment
With this policy, we aim to support our employees and create a healthy and happy workplace. We want everyone to feel appreciated and be treated fairly.
This policy applies to all our employees. The HR Department is primarily responsible for communicating this policy and overseeing its implementation.
Our policy starts by seeking input from all stakeholders. We will consult employees, senior management and mental health professionals to develop and revise our policy.
What are mental health issues?
Mental health issues in the workplace are any conditions that affect employees’ state of mind. These conditions may include mild depression, stress and severe anxiety which may result in burnout and nervous breakdowns. Substance abuse may also perpetuate mental health issues.
Mental health problems manifest in different ways. Some employees may suffer with no physical side effects, while others may experience physical symptoms (e.g. increased blood pressure, lethargy, changes in eating habits.)
Factors that cause mental health issues
Employees may experience mental health issues for various reasons that an employer cannot control (e.g. hereditary, family conflicts, general health.)
But, there are also work-related reasons for mental health problems, including:
- Job insecurity.
- Excessive pressure.
- Work-life imbalance.
- Lack of appreciation.
- Hostile workplace conditions.
- Unsatisfactory job or workload.
- Unpleasant relationships with colleagues or managers.
To every extent possible, our company’s leaders aim to recognize and address cases of workplace pressures that contribute to mental health issues.
We aim to:
- Treat mental illness seriously.
- Identify issues proactively and resolve them.
- Support employees who face mental health problems.
- Create pleasant workplaces in collaboration with managers, employees, unions and health experts.
As a way to prevent employee distress, we will set up policies for:
- Workplace violence
- Open communication
- Work from home/ Flexible hours
- Parental leave/ Short-term disability leave
This list isn’t exhaustive. All of these policies aim to preserve a harmonious workplace where employees can enjoy their work and balance their jobs with their personal lives. All managers and HR must ensure the company adheres to these policies.
We will also establish a voluntary Employee Assistance Program (EAP) which includes confidential health assessments, counseling and a 24-hour hotline for personal crises.
Our company offers employees a health care insurance package that covers mental illness (treatment, counseling) and substance-use disorders. HR is responsible for explaining this package to our employees and answering questions.
We will engage the services of a mental health professional (e.g. psychologist) who will visit our company once a year as part of our EAP. Employees may reach out to this professional when they are in need of counseling. Anything they share will this person will remain confidential.
Mental health awareness
We want to raise mental health awareness and combat the stigmas associated with them.
To do this, we will:
- Host information sessions. We will schedule [quarterly] workshops for managers and employees explaining important elements of mental health.
- Keep employees informed. We will organize an event to present updates to this policy whenever it’s modified. HR will also present this policy to new hires.
- Compile helpful resources. We will establish a repository of articles, videos and infographics about mental health. These resources will exist in a shared folder, on our website or as part of an HRIS.
Issues related to work, compensation, job insecurity and work-life balance can heavily burden our employees. In these cases, we encourage our employees to speak to our mental health professional about how to handle their individual situations better.
Additionally, we encourage open communication between employees and managers. If employees have a work-related problem, they should speak openly to their managers. Managers are in turn obliged to listen to their employees and should search for a mutually satisfying solution together.
Managers should also proactively identify mental health issues among their employees. If they perceive that an employee is in a state of emotional or psychological distress, they should reach out to them.
Here are some tips on how managers can address an employee who suffers from mental health issues in common situations:
- If an employee has work-related problems, managers should come up with a solution.
- If an employee has issues collaborating with colleagues, managers should meet with concerned employees and serve as mediators. If the problem is severe (e.g. violence, harassment, victimization), managers should contact HR.
- If an employee’s problems are personal or the employee refuses to discuss them, managers should encourage them to contact our mental health professional.
Open communication and support
HR is responsible for sending out bi-annually surveys to gather information about mental health in the workplace. Surveys must be anonymous.
We also want to actively support employees who are at risk of facing mental health issues (e.g. pregnant women, new parents, retiring employees.)
Often, it’s easier to reach out to a colleague instead of a supervisor or HR. We encourage coworkers to support one another when needed.
Employee recognition and development
One way to prevent our employees from excessive stress is to recognize their work and invest in their personal growth.
For this reason, we will establish:
- Recognition programs
- Mentorship programs
- Learning and development programs
Compliance with the law
The law protects employees who suffer from medical conditions (e.g. clinical depression) or mental disorders (e.g. schizophrenia.) Consistent with our non-discrimination practices, we will treat these employees fairly and we won’t oblige anyone to disclose their condition or other medical information. Instead, we will attempt to support employees who come to us with mental health issues and establish strategies that apply to everyone.
Also, we will make reasonable accommodations for people with mental disabilities (e.g. flexible work hours.)
This policy’s provision are not restrictive. We will test its elements to find out what works and what doesn’t. HR should continuously research mental health topics and evaluate the results of our policy with managers’ help.
To develop, revise and establish this policy, we need everyone’s help. We can all work to define mental health issues, their causes and seek or offer help when needed. We encourage employees to share their ideas and concerns.