Meet The Founder
Dr. Joti Samra, R.Psych.
Welcome to MyWorkplaceHealth – and congratulations on beginning the journey to invest in your organization’s psychological health & safety (PH&S)! I’m a Registered Psychologist and Research Scientist who has been immersed in workplace mental health research, policy, clinical and consulting work for almost 20 years.
I’m passionate about all things related to workplace mental health, for so many reasons. Work – in all its various shapes and forms, in every culture and society, since the beginning of time – has been known from the science to be a critical ingredient to living a long, happy and healthy life, both psychologically and physically. Work naturally offers us many things that are wonderful for our mental health: social connection; personal challenges that lead to growth; a sense of self-confidence, and self-efficacy; and purpose in contributing to a greater good. When life throws us the inevitable curve balls it will personally, work can often serve a very important protective role. It can be a welcome reprieve from the challenges we are dealing with personally and give us a meaningful way to distract from things we cannot control, and focus on those we can. We are fundamentally social creatures – and for many of, us we spend more of our waking hours with our work colleagues than we do with our partners, family and friends. When our work environments and social connections at work are healthy – kind, supportive, civil and respectful – we thrive. When those environments and connections are unhealthy, toxic, and disrespectful – we suffer.
I’ve been involved in research and policy work around the National Standard since inception. In 2006, I was recruited by the SFU Faculty of Health Sciences in a Research Scientist role given my clinical expertise in occupational disability. A number of serendipitous events were occurring nationally at that time. Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (formerly the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health in the Workplace) and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (the first federal commission on mental health) were both established in 2007 – and national attention was starting to be placed for the first time on the importance of better understanding issues relating to workplace mental health from a research, policy and practice perspective.
I still vividly recall the day Mary Ann Baynton, Director of Strategy and Collaboration for Workplace Strategies, reached out. She posed a simple question to me: As a researcher, what strategies did I think would help employers effectively address issues relating to workplace mental health?
Shortly thereafter, I was introduced to the esteemed and recently retired Dr. Martin Shain – a legal scholar who has been very passionate for most of his career about the critical imperative work environments have to protect their employees from psychological harm. Within a few months, the framework for Guarding Minds at Work was borne – and what began initially as a ‘one year project’ continues to evolve and grow today. As the lead Research Scientist who developed Guarding Minds at Work, I’m very proud to state that the psychosocial frame we created was adapted as the frame within our national Standard – and Guarding Minds has become an international assessment tool for psychological health and safety.
My interest in workplace mental health as a lifelong career pursuit was solidified during this time. Not only did the research unequivocally support the myriad positive impacts of healthy work environments on individuals and organizations alike, but the critical importance of preventing psychological harm within work environments was underscored for me. The research and law only strengthened what I intuitively knew from all of my working years – that being in respectful, inspiring, supportive, kind, and fair work environments was immensely good for my psychological health, and being in environments coloured by incivility, toxicity, lack of integrity, harassment, and bullying was immensely bad for my psychological health.
As a Founding Member of the CSA Technical Committee that developed the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (CAN/CSA-Z1003-13/BNQ9700-803/2013), I’m very proud to state that not only is our Standard the first of its kind in Canada – it’s the first of its kind in the world, and is now shaping policy development at the international ISO level. It is unequivocally clear that attending to workplace mental health is not just a nice-to: it’s a need-to.
As the CEO of a rapidly expanding start-up company, I personally know how overwhelming it can feel to start to enhance organizational PH&S. If you’re like most organizations, you don’t know where to start, and likely have limited resources to do so. That’s where MyWorkplaceHealth steps in.
I’m proud to have an amazing team of CSA developers and PH&S advisors, industry experts, and mental health specialists from coast-to-coast who are passionate about workplace mental health. We look forward to being of service to you in enhancing the psychological health and safety of your organization.