Annual Report 2022-2023


Workplace Mental Health

Mental health at work is crucial for worker wellness and engagement.  The crisis, challenges and trauma of the Covid pandemic and lockdowns, that profoundly disrupted both personal lives and the workplace, have put mental health front and center. Dialogue and discussion are the key to help strengthen workplace mental health initiatives and make the future of work, in a post-pandemic world, psychologically safe and healthy.

OHCOW has been a prevention system leader in Workplace Mental Health since 2011, when we worked with academic and labour partners to research survey tools. Many tools created by OHCOW such as the StressAssess Survey are still used regularly as a starting point to help ignite that discussion.

Mental Health in the Workplace

The 2022 Mayday, Mayday! Webinar series took a closer look at the personal and societal problems affecting workplaces. Issues of addiction, bullying, foreign workers and international perspectives were addressed over five webinars.

Session 1  April 29, 2022
Addiction and Opioid Harm Reduction at Work

  • – Chronic Pain and the Mental Health Impact of Disablement: Dr. Fergal O’Hagan, Department of Psychology, Trent University
  • – Understanding Mental Health and Opioids During Return-to-Work (RTW), Research Findings: Dr. Ellen MacEachen, School of Public Health Sciences, University of Waterloo
  • – We Are All in This Together, Supporting Workers and Fighting Addiction in the Workplace: Sari Sairanen, Health, Safety & Environment Director, Unifor National: Mike Byrne, Unifor EFAP Liaison
  • – Listen to the Voices of Experience: A Worker Perspective: Wayne Harris, RSE, UA Local 853 Executive Board and Toronto VP for ONIWG

Session 2  May 6, 2022
Violence, Harrassment and Bullying in the Workplace

  • – Digital Harassment as a New Workplace Risk:  Rebecka Cowen Forsell, PhD., Assistant Senior Lecturer in Leadership and Organization at Malmö University, Sweden
  • – Changes in Offensive Behaviour Experience During the Pandemic:  John Oudyk, Occupational Hygienist, OHCOW
  • – Violence and Harassment in the Workplace:  Andrew Falotico, Health and Safety Representative, Allied Transit Union (ATU) 113

Session 3  May 13, 2022
Survey Experiences and Insights from Around the World

  • – How to (Not) Go Mad at Work in Chile: Mandatory Assessing and Intervening with a Sentinel Event in the Workplace: Juan M Pérez Franco, Profesional, Unidad de Prevención y Vigilancia, Intendencia de Seguridad y Salud en el Trabajo, Superintendencia de Seguridad Social Ministerio del Trabajo | Gobierno de Chile
  • – Job Stressors and Burnout: Does the Relationship Run in Both Directions?: Faraz Vahid Shahidi, Associate Scientist, Institute for Work & Health and Assistant Professor, Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto
  • – Addressing Psychosocial Factors in the Workplace – A Partnership Between Union and Employer: From the Correctional Services Division of the Ministry of the Solicitor of Ontario: Michelle MacLean, Correctional Officer and Vice-Chair (Union) of the Provincial Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee; Denise Sidsworth, Probation and Parole Officer and member (Union) of the Provincial Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee, and more…

Session 4   May 20, 2022
Diverse Perspectives on Workplace Mental Health

  • – Psychologists’ Perspectives on Improving Workplace Mental Health: Dr. Deborah Scharf, PhD CPsych, Associate Professor of Psychology, Lakehead University; Dr. Mandy McMahan, PhD CPsych (ON); Clinical, Health, and Counselling Psychologist; Vice President, Professional Services and Business Strategy and Development, Odyssey Health Services
  • – When Domestic Violence Enters the Workplace: Dr. Kari Sampsel, Emergency Physician and Medical Director of the Sexual Assault and Partner Abuse Care Program at the Ottawa hospital
  • – The Healthy Work Survey: Progress and Challenges in Year One: Marnie Dobson, Ph.D., Director of the Healthy Work Campaign

Session 5   May 27, 2022
Workplace Mental Health Interventions and Other Solutions

  • – Practice-based Strategies for Designing Organizational Wellness Interventions: Kelly McShane, PhD, CPsych, CE
  • – Building on Successive Surveys: A Worthwhile Investment: Enzo Garritano, President and CEO, Infrastructure Health & Safety Association (IHSA)
  • – Supporting the Mental Health of Ontario Agricultural Workers: Eduardo Huesca, Community Program and Outreach Coordinator and Leonor Cedillo, Research Lead, OMAFRA Project, OHCOW

Published Peer-Reviewed Papers: Educators During the Pandemic

As we all know, the pandemic changed education. Teachers had to use online technology to give lessons and interact with students. When in-person classes did resume, restrictions were in place such as masking, social distancing, and hybrid learning. A pair of peer-reviewed papers by the Institute for Work & Health (IWH) and Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) describes how these policies effected Ontario educators. It was a needed perspective, as the bulk of study looking at the effects of pandemic restrictions in schools had focused on children. OHCOW Hygienist John Oudyk was a co-author of the papers.

Relevant Research Papers for 2022/23

The first paper, The psychosocial work environment among educators during the COVID-19 pandemic, was published in Occupational Medicine in June 2022. It’s aim was “To compare various dimensions of the psychosocial work environment and health outcomes between educators engaged in online learning to those engaged in in-person learning in the Canadian province of Ontario.” The second paper, Perceived Adequacy of Infection Control Practices and Symptoms of Anxiety Among In-Person Elementary School Educators in Ontario, was published in the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine in November 2022. It looked at the adequacy of infection control practices was connected to anxiety among educators in Ontario.

Info to come, web stats.

Accessible, Critical Information for Foreign Workers

Foreign workers experience isolation and stress when they come here to work. OHCOW partners with other organizations to help them adjust and feel that they are not alone. Along with other print and social media materials, in 2022 OHCOW published a playlist of videos that explain the various types of supports and services available to international agricultural workers. The short videos are available in English and Spanish,  and cover topics such as health care services, community connection and support, dealing with stress and worry, and reporting emergencies or cases of abuse.  Link to them here.