Mental Health Infographic | Sun Life

Stage 1

Build the foundation

Culture is the bedrock of any workplace mental health strategy. An organization with a health-focused culture enhances:

  • Employee well-being
  • Job satisfaction
  • Commitment
  • Social support

Stage 1

Build the foundation

Setting the tone

Support – employees who feel supported are more productive, engaged, and better at problem solving.

Communication – help reduce stigma and empower employees with genuine messages, special events, and open discussions around workplace mental health. Don't forget to get leaders involved!

Remember to keep language safe, respectful, and consistent.

Diversity and inclusivity – ensure ALL your employees feel included and represented. Understand who you're hiring and promoting. Look for areas where you can improve and set goals. Connect with your employees by creating a space for open dialogue and feedback.

Leadership commitment

Here are some factors to consider when you start building a mental health strategy:

  • Civility and respect
  • Psychological & support
  • Workload management
  • Protection of physical safety
  • Clear leadership & expectations
  • Engagement
  • Reward & recognition
  • Involvement & influence

Terms to know

Here are some mental health terms to help you with your messaging.

Stage 2

Identify opportunities

No two organizations are alike – and approaches to mental health should reflect these organizational differences.

Use data to analyze your organizations unique needs so that your strategy is focusing its efforts in the right places.

3-step process

1. Evaluate
Analyze your organization's data, provide reports and insights, and continue to re-evaluate throughout the consultation process.

2. Plan
Create a custom approach to your organization's specific needs and objectives.

3. Action
Provide hands-on guidance and suggestion for changes and programs to integrate into your organization.

Data driven approach

Critical analysis of the data you collect will help you determine:

  • What you are doing well
  • Opportunities
  • Direction moving forward
  • What your employees think
  • The views of senior leaders vs employees
  • How employees are using their benefits
  • If you're offering the right benefits


Check out our Workplace Mental Health Risk Assessment to help you identify risk factors in your organization.

Stage 3

Set priorities and objectives

Once you have identified opportunities, use them to set priorities and objectives will guide your actions moving forward. It is best to:

  • Consider three to five high-level priorities, and
  • Break each into smaller objectives

Stage 3

Set priorities and objectives


Your mental health strategy should align with your workplace's mission and values.

Consider having a key performance indicator (KPI) specific to mental health alongside your other goals.

You wouldn't set aside business goals during high-demand times – don't set aside your employee health goals either.


Successful workplace mental health strategies focus on:

Prevention: healthy employees at work

Early intervention: employees at risk

Recovery: employees who are off work or returning to work

Remember, mental health is only one part of employee health. When strategizing, focus on the three pillars of total well-being:

  • Mental
  • Physical
  • Financial

Set realistic goals

When setting your goals, think about the resources you have, such as:

  • People
  • Money
  • Time

It might be helpful to start with a small number of achievable goals.

Check out our Workplace mental health strategy template for guidance on setting your goals.

Stage 4

Take action

When it comes to taking action, target solutions to your organization's own unique needs and objectives. We recommend employees have:

Leadership training

A successful mental health strategy needs to start at the top. Mandatory mental health training for leaders is important because:

  • It helps leaders understand the link between job stress and health
  • It provides employees with consistent messaging

Training should focus on:

  • Support and prevention
  • Diversity and inclusivity
  • Base level information

Training should be easy to access and offered regularly.

Return to work

Another important part of any mental health strategy is having the proper policies and practices in place when an employee returns to work after a mental health-related absence.

A Return-to-Work Plan should include:

  • Policies and procedures based on your organization
  • What you need to execute these policies and procedures
  • Expectations
  • Modified job duties/hours
  • Accommodations
  • Intervention procedures

Don't forget to Ask the employee what they need.

Accommodations might include:

  • Reduced hours
  • Slow return to responsibilities
  • Change of job content

You should also conduct formal assessments of returning employees to evaluate:

  • Job requirements
  • Functional abilities
  • Restrictions and limitations

Targeted solutions

Determine what solutions best fit your organization's and employee's needs. Here are some solutions to consider:

Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP)/Employee Assistance Programs (EAP)
These short-term programs are a great first step for employees experiencing mental health challenges.

Mental health practicioner benefit maximums
Lack of coverage for mental health treatment can be a common barrier in some workplaces. The Canadian Psychological Association recommends organizations provide between $3,500 - $4,000 of annual coverage.

Supports for different mental illnesses
This includes different treatment approaches such as face-to-face therapy, and online programs such as iCBT.

Support for employees at different stages in their mental health journey
This includes resources for those developing mental illness and those already diagnosed or in rehabilitation.

Support for different industries/workplaces
Look for resources aimed at the industry, demographics, and job requirements for your workplace.

Stage 5


A focus on mental health is an ongoing effort, not a one-time occurrence. Your organization's needs – and effective strategies – may change over time. There needs to be a continual review process.

Stage 5


When to re-evaluate

How often you review your progress depends on what works best for your organization. Here is a general timeline to help:

Start monthly to review initial progress.

Then quarterly to provide reviews and reports to stakeholders.

Finally, annual reviews are recommended on outcomes and where you are relative to your baseline.

Re-evaluation process


  • Key outcome data
  • Significant findings


  • Is your current strategy working?
  • Is it suitable for the means and resources you have?
  • Is it achieving the intended outcomes?


  • Identify opportunities for improvement and corrective action
  • Update policies and procedures
  • Adjust and update goals, targets, and action plans
  • Identify different ways to communicate