Sun Life Financial launches digital assessment for workplace mental health risks

Innovative program could help almost 60% of Canadian workplaces without a mental health strategy.

Sun Life Financial is taking a significant step to help employers identify mental health risks and foster more mentally healthy workplaces with the launch of the Workplace Mental Health Risk Assessment and Consulting Services.

Mental health issues have become a leading driver for disability claims in Canada. Approximately 30 per cent of disability claims are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses1 yet 57 per cent of Canadian workplaces have no mental health strategy.2  Sun Life’s 2015 Canadian Health Index found that 86 per cent of Canadians believe their employers are responsible for supporting their employees’ psychological health.

This digital assessment was created to help employers develop a plan to build a more mentally healthy workplace for employees. It is aligned to the National Standard set out by the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace.

“When an employee is facing a mental health issue, many aspects of their life, including their engagement in the workplace, can be negatively impacted,” said Dr. Marie-Hélène Pelletier, Assistant Vice-President, Workplace Mental Health, Group Benefits, Sun Life Financial Canada. “Organizations with a mental health strategy in place can benefit from increased job satisfaction, higher productivity and lower absenteeism.”

The Workplace Mental Health Risk Assessment tool was developed by Sun Life’s Integrated Health Solutions team in partnership with Dr. Arla Day, a world-renowned researcher in Industrial/Organizational Psychology from Saint Mary’s University in Nova Scotia. Dr. Day’s research focuses on healthy workplaces, occupational health and stress, work-life balance, and leadership.

Employers complete the online risk assessment to get an immediate snapshot of how their organization is faring in relation to the 13 psychological risk factors outlined in the National Standard. The initial results pinpoint the risk factors needing attention at their organization. Sun Life’s Integrated Health Solutions consultants will follow-up with a detailed plan to help employers prioritize and take action on their results with the aim of building a more psychologically healthy and safe workplace. This innovative approach was piloted with the City of Mississauga.

“Every day our frontline staff is exposed to difficult situations that can lead to stress on their mental well-being. This is in addition to the personal issues they may be dealing with,” said Shawn Matheson, Assistant Chief, Mississauga Fire & Emergency Services. “Sun Life’s Mental Health Risk Assessment helped the City of Mississauga develop an action plan to support our first responders. We may not be able to control the trauma they face, but we are now in a better position to help support them.”

“Sun Life is committed to being an industry leader by providing innovative resources to support employers as they work to build a healthy organization and proactively address employees’ physical, mental and financial health needs,” Dr. Pelletier continued. “We help employers meet the needs of today to build a healthier future.”

About Sun Life Financial

Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2016, the Sun Life Financial group of companies had total assets under management of $861 billion. For more information please visit

1 Smetanin, P., et al. (2011). The life and economic impact of major mental illnesses in Canada: 2011 to 2041. RiskAnalytica, on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canad
2 Chenier, L., & Boyer, C. (2016). Healthy Brains at Work: Employer-Sponsored Mental Health Benefits and Programs. Conference Board of Canada, Briefing (2)

Source: Sun Life Financial Canada

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