Home|Audio Conferences|Coping with Crisis

Coping with Crisis: Responding to mental health emergencies in the workplace

Thursday, October 24, 2019, 12:30 pm - 2:00 pm EDT

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Jon Chapnick

Director, Human Resources & Labour Relations
RainCity Housing
Mihad Fahmy

Union Counsel


Gretchen Brown

Legal Counsel
British Columbia Teachers' Federation
Mike Condra

Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology
Queen's University
Lisa Goodfellow

Employer Counsel
Miller Thomson


Being prepared to respond to workplace mental health emergencies is just as important as being prepared to respond to sudden injuries or acute episodes of physical ill health. In this session, clinical psychologist Dr. Mike Condra will provide practical guidance on how employers, unions, and employees should respond to mental health emergencies in a way that ensures the safety and mental health of everyone in the workplace. He will be joined by experienced labour lawyers who will explain the important legal issues that arise when workers and workplaces are in crisis.

  • What should be done to protect the mental health of workers who experience traumatic events at work? What is the scope of the employer's potential legal liability for failure to take such action?
  • Is a panic attack a mental health emergency? What about crying at work? How should managers, supervisors, co-workers, and union representatives respond to someone who is experiencing a panic attack or is crying at work? What legal obligations may be triggered by these types of events?
  • Should an employee's expression of a desire to die be treated as a mental health emergency? Should it be treated as a threat to the health and safety of co-workers? Aside from expressing a wish to die, what are some other signs that an employee may be suicidal?
  • What immediate steps should managers, union representatives, and co-workers take to assist someone who they believe may be suicidal? Might asking someone about being suicidal actually trigger suicidal ideation or action?
  • What should be done if it appears that an employee has been engaging in self-harming behaviour (e.g. cutting, hitting, or burning oneself)? Is such behaviour a mental health emergency? Is such behaviour a threat to the health and safety of other workers?
  • What might cause an employee to lose touch with reality? What behaviours are managers and co-workers likely to observe if this were to happen? What is the appropriate response?
  • Do the signs that an employee may have a mental health problem overlap with warning signs of potential violence? How should employers, co-workers, and union representatives respond if they are concerned that an employee may become violent? What are their legal obligations?
  • If an employee experiences a mental health crisis at work or the employer becomes aware of an employee's suicidal ideation, should the employer require the employee to provide medical documentation of fitness to work? Should the employee be automatically placed on leave or be encouraged to take a leave?
  • How should workplace parties respond to privacy issues raised by workplace mental health emergencies? For example, what can employers or unions tell co-workers who have expressed concern about an employee's behaviour or health? What if co-workers have expressed concern for their own safety?
  • Broadly speaking, what steps should employers and unions take to respond to crises? What are the three key elements of a crisis response?

Additional Information

Valuable, up-to-date materials and case summaries will be available for downloading from our website. Each audio conference is accompanied by a PDF of concise summaries of the cases discussed.

Audio conference MP3 files are available for $260. Those who have purchased the live audio conference may purchase the corresponding downloadable audio MP3 file for the discounted price of $160.

The recorded MP3 file and materials are available for download one business day after the live audio conference. After purchasing, you will receive an e-mail with instructions on how to access and download the audio conference MP3 file and materials by visiting My Account and selecting Order History. For audio file purchases for upcoming audio conferences, once the MP3 file is available through our site, registrants will receive an update e-mail informing them that the links are now ready.

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