Role and definition of a workplace mental health champion

A champion is

“Someone who is respected by both workers and management, has a passion for the cause, and is willing to be the 'face’ of the system. This is the person who acts as leader and communicates frequently to all workplace stakeholders.”

Jill Collins
Assembling the Pieces, SA Group, 2014

The role of the champion

Personal characteristics of a champion

  • Passionate and genuine
  • Walks the talk (has credibility)
  • Respected by colleagues
  • Proactive
  • Possess strong communication skills and the ability to adapt to one's audience (i.e. has emotional intelligence)
  • Can mobilize at all levels
  • Embraces diversity
  • Has access to resources
  • Accessible
  • Offers fearless advice
  • Has moral authority

Champions must be the face of the vision, engage unions and employees at all levels, and raise awareness of the importance of psychological health and safety.

Together with other organizational leaders, champions are responsible to:

  • Develop and ensure the sustainability of a psychologically healthy and safe workplace;
  • Establish key objectives toward continual improvement of psychological health and safety in the workplace; and
  • Ensure that psychological health and safety are part of all organizational decision making processes.

A Champion is part of a multidisciplinary team, which may include various subject matter experts in areas such as health and safety, HR, mental health, governance, disability management, and project management.

Resources for the champions

Support and additional resources should be given to the Champion to fulfill their professional commitments related to their substantive position and their personal commitments as champion.

Organizational sponsors and senior leaders supporting the Champion advocate for the allocation of resources to support the psychological health and safety management system, and have the authority and power to make decisions at the highest level.

Choosing a champion

The selection process forms the first step toward general employee engagement. The selection process must be transparent and fair in order to lend credibility and authenticity to the department’s commitment to improve the culture. Champions should be selected through a joint process, with input from individuals across the organization. A Guide to an Organization’s Selection Process can be found in the second Technical Committee Report from the Joint Task Force on Mental Health for more information.

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