Canadian ICMIF member Beneva, the company created by the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance, has contributed CAD 1 million to the Université Laval’s Faculty of Social Sciences for the creation of the Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self-Management, and Work, powered by Beneva, as part of a five year partnership.
The COVID-19 crisis has caused significant upheavals in the workplace says the University. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders now constitute a major challenge. The pandemic will have lasting effects on the ways people work and their mental health. Working from home, which may continue to be an option of choice for some employers once the pandemic has subsided, can present its own set of challenges when it comes to healthy performance and creating an environment that fosters well-being.
In a recent press release, the Université Laval’s Faculty of Social Sciences states its belief that all this has made it clear that employers and mental health support organisations desperately need more evidence-based data to help them support self-management and be proactive in preventing mental health issues.
“Work environments have a significant impact on mental health. This Chair will help develop scientific knowledge on self-management, mental health, and healthy performance in the workplace so that workers and the people around them can adopt self-management practices to support their mental health,” explains Chairholder Simon Coulombe, an associate professor in Université Laval’s Department of Industrial Relations.
Self-management refers to the daily strategies people adopt to prevent or reduce symptoms of mental health issues and optimise their well-being in their personal and work lives. Lately, workers have been exposed to a number of stressors that jeopardise their well-being, such as potential job loss, having to work from home, difficulties balancing their personal and work lives, and the forced use of information and communication technologies without proper preparation.
Support for self-management has the potential to help organisations, managers, and workers facing such challenges take action to prevent psychological distress and help people living with mental health issues recover.
Natural, strategic partnerships with Relief and Beneva
Despite scientific advances, the University believes that mental health self-management has made little headway in the workplace. Self-management is also seldom included in training, education, and intervention programs for the general public, employees, managers, and other workplace resources.
Working with Beneva, the mutual insurer which is firmly dedicated to the well-being of its employees, clients, partners, and the community, and with Relief, a national mental health organisation uniquely specialised in the self-management of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders, the Chair will advance scientific knowledge and combine it with the existing practical and experiential expertise of mental health organisations and businesses. Beneva and Relief will each contribute CAD 1 million to the project over five years.
“Mental health issues can happen at any time, to anyone. At Beneva, we not only provide mental health support initiatives to our clients, we endorse those for the community as well,” says Éric Trudel, Executive Vice-President of Group Insurance at Beneva. “In light of our mutualist values, our objective is to foster real social change. This is why I’m very proud and pleased to announce our financial partnership to fund the creation of the Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self-Management, and Work.”
“By adding concrete knowledge, contributing to the assessment of Relief’s programmes, and creating other tools to help workers self-manage their mental health, the Chair will provide essential information to support Relief’s services and its new Relief Business programme,” says Jean-Rémy Provost, Executive Director of Relief.
The knowledge acquired on self-management, mental health, and healthy performance will also be included in educational programmes and the curricula of various training programmes. This will help build awareness among people working in industrial relations, health, and social services and increase their ability to promote mental health.
“This research chair could quickly make a real difference in the lives of many people,” says Université Laval Rector Sophie D’Amours. “It meets a societal post pandemic need and is aligned with Université Laval’s objectives regarding sustainable health and well-being. I would like to thank all the stakeholders and partners who have come together to make a real difference in mental health.”
Ultimately, the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired by the Chair will be disseminated in work settings, community settings, and the health and social service system, thereby improving the mental health and healthy performance of Quebecers and all Canadians at work.