Some of Canada’s leading mental health experts and advocates, including Juno award-winning artist Serena Ryder and Grey Cup Champion and former defensive back Étienne Boulay, led conversations for change in support of workplace mental health and wellness at an exclusive conference series in Montreal, Toronto and Halifax, November 14, November 6 and October 30 respectively.

Hosted by Medavie Blue Cross, Benefits3 brought together employers and HR professionals, health benefit advisors and consultants to share actionable insights that foster workplace health, productivity and leadership – the three pillars of this annual conference series. Recognizing that one in five members of Canada’s working age population is currently living with a mental health condition with the cost to the Canadian economy projected to reach $88.8 billion by 2021,1 conversations focused on what is working well in creating psychologically safe, healthy and productive workplaces across the country. Speakers and delegates exchanged thoughts and ideas on effective strategies and solutions that remove barriers to care, such as stigma, cost and lack of access to qualified mental health professionals, which prevent 60 per cent of Canadians from getting the professional help they need.2 As the manager and insurer of health benefits for one in twelve Canadians, Medavie Blue Cross is committed to helping employers build mentally healthy workplaces in Canada. To that end, the organization has developed a comprehensive offering of state-of-the-art tools in personalized and targeted medicine to ensure its plan members have easier, faster access to expert care. Earlier this month, Medavie Blue Cross rolled out enhancements to its extended health care coverage for mental health care practitioners by broadening the range of eligible service providers and increasing coverage maximums. New provider types include: counselling therapists, psychotherapists and psychoeducators.

This followed the launch of Medavie Blue Cross’s new digital health platform, Connected Care, which gives plan members quick access to mental health professionals for online counselling and education services, among other virtual health services. Medavie Blue Cross’s full suite of products to protect and promote workplace mental health and wellness can be viewed at medaviebc.ca/mentalhealthsolutions.

Participant Quotes:

Eric Laberge, President, Medavie Blue Cross

As a health solutions partner, Medavie Blue Cross is committed to helping employers build mentally healthy workplaces in Canada. We will continue to form strategic partnerships, invest resources and leverage new technologies to develop innovative, collaborative solutions that increase accessibility to care, elevate mental resiliency and ultimately improve the lives of Canadians affected by mental illness.

Serena Ryder, Juno award-winning artist

Most of us are taught to swallow our emotions, and that falling apart is a bad thing. Through my personal journey, I’ve come to realize that falling apart is the very thing that keeps us “together”. I'm very encouraged to see people coming together to focus on creating healthy and supportive work environments. If sharing my mental health journey helps just one person know they are not alone, it is well worth it!

Étienne Boulay, former Canadian Football League player

I am very proud to have participated in this important event with Medavie Blue Cross. It is by getting together and having a transparent discussion about issues related to mental health that we will make a difference.

Dr. Peter Farvolden, Chief Science Officer, MindBeacon Group

Effective treatments are available. For example, about 85-90% of depression can be effectively treated with a combination of evidence-based psychotherapy and medications. If we just reduced the number of young people experiencing a new mental illness in a given year by 10%, after 10 years we could be saving the economy at least $4 billion a year.

Jordan Friesen, National Director, Workplace Mental Health, Canadian Mental Health Association

The workplace is a key environment to affect positive change in the mental health of Canadians, especially if we want to promote mental health and prevent mental illness in the first place. A mentally healthy work environment is going to be key to our economic advantage in an increasingly fast-paced global economy and massive planetary change.

Dr. Paul Oh, Medical Director, University Health Network & Principal Investigator: ACCELERATION 2.0

The link between chronic disease and mental illness is undeniable. Depression, anxiety and stress can all be downstream complications of heart disease, stroke, diabetes and cancer. Making this connection is the first step in supporting at-risk Canadians on their journey to better health. By adopting healthy lifestyles and eliminating risk behaviours, those affected can prevent, delay the onset or even reverse chronic conditions and secondary psychological conditions.