Promoting mental health in the workplace



Reasonable accommodation has been shown to promote the workplace integration of people with disabilities, but little study has been made of its application in the context of mental health.

Researcher Anne-Marie Laflamme, from the Faculty of Law at Université Laval, reviewed government measures and analyzed jurisprudence in order to learn more about the use of reasonable accommodation in the case of workers with mental health problems. The results are clear: reasonable accommodation is an important tool for the integration and work maintenance of people with mental disorders.

Reasonable accommodation is an important tool for the integration and work maintenance of people with mental disorders.

However, court cases involving hiring discrimination are rare because of the limited recourse available to candidates who face discrimination and the difficulty they have in proving that they have been discriminated against. Employment discrimination jurisprudence is more abundant and generally involves workers suffering from persistent mental health problems. Accommodation often takes the form of a gradual return to work or maintenance of the employment relationship despite absence from work. Requests for changes to the psychosocial work environment are relatively rare, and yet such measures are often easily implemented, inexpensive and generally have no significant effect on work organization. Furthermore, they constitute a lever for mental health prevention.

These findings could help employers by providing them with a better understanding of ways to promote the mental health of their employees and to integrate workers who suffer or who have suffered from mental health problems. They could also lead to the development of public policy that would encourage or require the establishment of measures in this regard. This research has been the subject of a number of presentations in Québec and France.