University of Fredericton, WorkSafe Sask partner to support workplace psychological health

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The University of Fredericton (UFred) and the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) have signed a partnership agreement to increase access to training and resources for Saskatchewan employers to create a psychologically healthy workplace.

Working with Saskatchewan employers will help UFred expand its body of research around psychological health and safety in the workplace.

“Since the launch of the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace in 2013, UFred has been actively engaged in developing educational programs that help Canadian employers protect the psychological safety of their workers,” said Dr. Sheri McKillop, Vice President of Academics at the University of Fredericton. “We are thrilled to partner with the Saskatchewan WCB in both research and program offerings, and look forward to the positive impacts that the resources created through this partnership will have.”

WorkSafe Saskatchewan says that the WCB has seen a 75 per cent increase in the number of psychological claims accepted over the last three years. While psychological claims only equate to a small percentage of all workplace injury claims accepted, the increase in the rate of acceptance is concerning.

“At WorkSafe Saskatchewan, we saw a need to provide employers with additional resources to help them create a psychologically healthy work environment for employees,” said Kevin Mooney, Director of Prevention at the WCB. “The expertise of the University of Fredericton faculty and the training courses made available will be invaluable to Saskatchewan employers.”

Through its partnership with UFred, Saskatchewan employers will have access to resources to help establish systems and programs that protect the psychological health and wellness of their employees. Among these resources include online psychological health and safety certificate programs at the basic, advanced and manager level.

“Our focus at WorkSafe is to prevent injuries from happening in the workplace,” said Mooney. “One of the ways that we do this is by connecting employers with resources that will help to build a culture of safety – both physical and psychological.”

In addition to the resources in psychological health and safety, the partnership between UFred and the WCB will also provide course modules focused on enhancing workplace resiliency to cope with and manage common stressors.

The resource-rich content of the resiliency course provides practical approaches for employees to lead a psychologically safe work environment and identify how to respond and manage situations where an employee is struggling.

“When we think about resiliency, we often think about the usual factors such as sleep, diet and exercise,” said Mooney. “The UFred resiliency course addresses these factors and provides other practical self-help tools related to cognitive behavioural therapy, emotional intelligence and positive psychology.”

In addition to its new partnership with UFred, WorkSafe is hosting a sold-out, one-day learning event in Saskatoon on Dec. 5.  Bringing together mental health expertise from across the county, the speaker line-up includes Dr. Rakesh Jetly, subject matter expert at UFred and Head of the Centre of Excellence in Mental Health, and Mary Deacon, Chair of Bell Let’s Talk.

“The response to our learning event shows the need with employers to offer resources of this nature,” said Mooney. “This event, paired with the resources being made available by the University of Fredericton, will serve as a foundation for employers in the province to become educated on the importance of a positive workplace environment for employees and provide the tools to establish and promote a psychologically healthy and safe workplace.”