Working Stronger Article

The State of Workplace Mental Health

October 30, 2023
As October 2023’s Healthy Workplace Month comes to a close, it becomes clearer and clearer that Canadians are engaging with their mental health more than ever before, and the state of mental health in our workplaces is driving much of that engagement. Canadian workers are talking about their mental health, and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Alberta Division is listening. Our Working Stronger workplace training team works diligently year-round to deliver mental health training and supports to Albertan workplaces with diverse mental health needs. Working Stronger brings cutting-edge mental health research and world-class best practices to employers across Alberta.   
Mental Health in Canadian Workplaces
Workers who can thrive at work and perform to their highest potential are more likely to report being satisfied at work and less likely to seek other employment opportunities, but are Canadian workers thriving? Only 26% of Canadian workers say they are thriving at work (Indeed, 2023), leading to a prevalence of workers reporting they feel as though they don’t belong (42%) and report a deficit in trusting their employer and colleagues (42%).
The Mental Health Index has tracked little movement on workplace mental health over the past three years, with negligible improvements for low-risk workers (3%) and virtually none (1%) for high-risk workers (Telus Health, 2023). The Mental Health Index reports, “In September 2023, 33 per cent of workers in Canada have a high mental health risk, 43 per cent have a moderate mental health risk, and 24 per cent have a low mental health risk.” (Telus Health, 2023) The anxiety mental health sub-score was the lowest and has remained the lowest for the last seventeen months (Telus Health, 2023). This paints a concerning picture of Canadian workplaces and worsens from an Alberta lens as our province ranks last in the Mental Health Index among all the provinces (Telus Health, 2023).
Mental Health Impacts on Employees
Workers are aware of the current mental health trends, and they have strong opinions. Most Canadians (89%) report that how workers feel at work matters, and stress can significantly decrease their quality of life. Three-quarters believe wellbeing at work is not just a privilege or “would be nice if,” and it is, in fact, a right (Indeed, 2023). Canadians overwhelmingly agree (95%) that most of the time, it is entirely realistic for workers to be happy at work, with Gen Z twice as likely as Boomers (49% to 21%) to say they expect mental health to be a priority for their employers and this stat continues to rise. (Indeed, 2023)
Workplaces are catching on, and many employers are starting to prioritize mental health in the workplace, though there is a gap between employer efforts and worker perception and experience. Three-quarters of workers are fearful of mental health supports being one of the first cuts their employers will make if there is a recession. This is despite a majority of business leaders (64%) saying they would actually choose to increase those supports in the event of a recession (Headspace, 2023). This disparity may be explained by power imbalances in the workplace, opacity of communication, and potential inconsistency with employers living their values. One key area employers are making great strides in is role modelling vulnerability. There has been a significant year-over-year increase in bosses being open with their mental health issues (87%), a move 76% of workers responded favourably to (Headspace, 2023).
Mental Health Impacts on Employers 
Leadership matters, and in fact, new research indicates that managers’ impact on employee wellbeing is equivalent to the impacts partners and spouses make. Research indicates this influence is greater than primary caregivers like doctors and therapists (UKG, 2023). This helps to contextualize just how consequential a healthy employee/employer dynamic is for workers. When workers are happy at work, they are twice as likely to be more effective, creative, and energetic (Indeed, 2023), yet instead of happiness, workers are experiencing dread. Most (87%) workers feel a sense of dread an average of once a month, and half feel that dread on a weekly basis, with the most common factors being pressure to take on more responsibility and a lack of security or stability in the workplace (Headspace, 2023). The impacts of this common experience ripple beyond work, with the impacts felt across a worker’s life. According to the Workforce Institute @UKG (UKG, 2023), there is a threefold likelihood that a worker lacking work-life balance will just “coast” at work.
Addressing Your Workplace’s Mental Health Needs 

CMHA, Alberta Division’s Working Stronger workplace training team has observed a significant increase in Albertan workplaces seeking support for compassion fatigue and burnout prevention. In our conversations with employers and workers alike, these trends have been true across industries and sectors. Workplaces are taking mental health seriously and beginning to understand that psychological health and safety are equally as important as physical health and safety. If you are an employer or worker interested in learning more about Working Stronger’s workplace training offerings, visit our workplace training page to view our full suite of workshops and trainings.


  1. Indeed, 2023, Canada Work Wellbeing 2023 Report How Thriving People Create Thriving Companies,, FINAL 2023 Wellbeing Annual Report_CAen.pptx ( 
  2. Telus Health, September 2023, The TELUS Mental Health Index. Special report on Financial Wellbeing Canada Mental Health Index_September 2023 ( 
  3. Headspace, 2023, A turn of the tide: Employee mental health in 2023,, workforceattitudes-MAY42023.pdf ( 
  4. Workforce Institute @UKG, 2023, Health at Work: Managers and Money,, Mental Health at Work: Managers and Money | UKG 

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