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Lakehead University seeking volunteers for mental health workplace study in Northwestern Ontario

Ontario Construction News staff writer

The Enhancing the Prevention of Injury and Disability at Work Research Institute is launching the largest cohort study ever conducted in Northwestern Ontario, which will examine workplace factors for mental health and wellbeing in the workplace.

EPID@Work at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay is funded by the Ministry of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development.

“We conduct community-driven research in the areas of work-related injury and disability prevention with a particular focus on issues relevant to Northwestern Ontario,” said Dr. Vicki Kristman, EPID’s director and senior scientist. “Our institute has three focus areas: mental health in the workplace, equity, diversity and inclusion, and knowledge mobilization and implementation.

“Our aim is to bring together community and academic professionals to conduct research that is meaningful to all involved.”

NOWWHS is set to launch mid-September and getting involved in EPID’s cohort study is easy. Just visit www.workinghealth.ca to learn more, sign up your workplace or volunteer as an individual.

A cohort study is an observational, long-term study that follows a group of people over time. Anyone who completes the study will be contacted again in six months for a follow-up survey, and every six months after that as long as the study continues.

The longer the study runs, the better researchers can collect and examine the data – potentially leading to groundbreaking conclusions and interventions for mental health in our workplaces.

All workers and all employers in Northwestern Ontario are encouraged to participate.

“Whether you are a small business owner or the CEO of a large corporation, we want to help you better understand the mental health of your organization,” said Kristman.

“If your workplace is not participating, individual workers can still elect to take the survey.  Old, new, injured, part-time, full-time, and everything in between – we are looking to hear from all workers in Northwestern Ontario.”

For workplaces, researchers say the study will provide an understanding of how mentally healthy your workers are and aspects of your workplace that affect the mental wellbeing of your workers.

EPID@Work is also hopeful to work with employers to develop and test cost-effective interventions to improve the mental health of employees. For workers, participating will give you an opportunity to share your concerns regarding factors affecting mental health in your workplace.

Once complete, EPID@Work hopes to use feedback to develop and test cost-effective interventions to improve the mental health of you and your co-workers. All surveys will remain completely confidential.

“Ultimately, the NOWWHS cohort study could have a big impact on the mental health and wellness of workplaces and workers in our region. With a large sample size and a long-term goal, EPID is hopeful that this study will become a powerful tool for change.”

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