Transforming Healthcare Organizations

Healthier Workers. Healthier Leaders. Healthier Organizations.

This publication is a summary of a research report authored by Dr. Graham Dickson. The report was commissioned by the By Health, For Health Collaborative, a community of practice of over 20 healthcare leaders across Canada committed to advancing psychological health and safety. The Collaborative is led in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and HealthCareCAN.

Working in healthcare comes with unique rewards and equally unique risks. Staff working in the healthcare sector are more likely to miss work due to illness or disability than people in all other sectors. They face higher rates of burnout, compassion fatigue and sleep deprivation that can impact their psychological health and safety as well as the safety of their patients. A psychologically safe workplace promotes a positive culture, can prevent stigma and discrimination and can contribute to a productive working environment.

While protecting and promoting the mental health of people in the workplace is imperative in all sectors, it has a unique role in healthcare. With the unique challenges of the healthcare sector, the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (The Standard) has a distinct role to protect healthcare workers and patients alike.

A major factor—in either enhancing or mitigating the creation of psychologically healthy workplaces—is the quality of its leadership. Research shows there is a direct link between effective leadership and psychologically healthy workplaces. The LEADS in a Caring Environment Framework (LEADS) is a common leadership language and set of desirable leadership practices that is well understood within the Canadian health sector.

Importantly, implementing The Standard can create caring, healthy and safe environments that support LEADS leaders. Similarly, LEADS can provide a change leadership framework for leaders to implement The Standard within their organizations. This document is intended to assist healthcare leaders to understand synergies of The Standard and LEADS and to support them in implementing both frameworks within their organizations.

For more information on this report, please contact us at

Mental Health Commission of Canada