Let's do lunch, and mental health: Workplace Safety North hosting Feed your Brain Lunch and Learn Series to show people how to create positive work environments.

Author:McKinley, Karen
Position:Training & Education

Workplace Safety North (WSN) is taking mental health in the workplace right to the people, and showing business owners how they can make workplaces more positive.

The organization launched the Feed your Brain Lunch and Learn Series earlier this year and organizers say it's been an amazing success, with the free sessions filling up.

From January to November there will be a series of two-hour workshops starting at 11:30 a.m., including lunch, session and discussions. The workshops will be held in Sudbury, Kirkland Lake and North Bay.

The reasoning behind these sessions, said Angele Poitras, organizer and community engagement specialist, was a combination of both community request and consultations with clients.

"WSN has a 20/20 strategy that they are following," she said. "(CEO Paul Andre) wanted to demonstrate the commitment we have to the communities in which we work, live and play in Northern Ontario. Another was to target areas of greatest need and enhance our services."

After speaking with clients and going over their ideology, the strategy was to organize a series of workshops looking at specific topics. The focus for this pilot project year will be topics on psychological health and safety.

Poitras said it became apparent people wanted access to more information and to build a network where they can have these conversations and share resources with each other.

"You get a roomful of people, and they come from every business you can imagine, so they are able to gain resources from Workplace Safety North and from each other," Poitras said.

"We hope these communities will develop into communities of best practices, so that eventually we can look at changing the culture long-term."

WSN is focusing on topics such as mental health through a positive culture, drugs and alcohol in the workplace, stress in the workplace, why mental health matters, and why workplace culture is important.

Each session can accommodate about 35 to 40 people and requires advanced booking.

WSN is hoping to show people how they can work on creating positive environments in their own workplaces.

Poitras said studies have shown mental health is becoming a greater concern among businesses.

She cited a prediction made 15 years ago in a study indicating that, by 2020, mental health will become the greatest cost for employers.

"We are two years away, and some of the organizations I've talked to, it's already their biggest cost," she said. "We have to take a look at it and...

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