Why well-being initiatives are companies’ imperatives

Prioritizing employees’ well-being reshapes organizational culture and drives long-term prosperity.

Regarding workplace mental health, Mental Health Research Canada reported in 2019 that one in five Canadians lives with mental health challenges. Additionally, the organization highlights a concerning trend: employed Canadians in their early and prime working years are disproportionately affected. 

Dialogue, a prominent mental health service provider in Canada, underscores this by revealing that 87 per cent of human resources leaders acknowledge the potential for proactive mental health support in averting or addressing mental health issues before they escalate.

Well-being offerings can encompass a wide range of programs and initiatives aimed at supporting the mental, physical, emotional and social health of employees. Some common examples include access to counseling services, mental health hotlines, mindfulness training and workshops on stress management and resilience-building. Recognizing employees’ contributions and celebrating achievements through rewards, bonuses, appreciation events and employee recognition programs that can positively impact morale and well-being are also great examples.

These are not seen as a mere bonus anymore; they became essential not only for employees seeking jobs, but for companies requiring long-term hires. This is a win-win relationship.  Companies and leaders are investing in well-structured well-being programs to reshape their organizational culture. This prioritizes employee well-being as well as improves recruitment and retains talent. 

The benefits are multiple. Corporate Wellness Magazine states that such programs can enhance employee morale and job satisfaction. This may foster a positive work culture where individuals feel valued and supported.

As employees are better equipped to manage stress and maintain a healthy work-life balance, investing in it enhances job satisfaction and reduces burnout, resulting in improved productivity and loyalty.

Embracing these programs is also a strategic imperative. By proactively investing in the health and happiness of their workforce, companies reap tangible benefits. They are investing in their workforce and in their own long-term achievement, too. 

Recognizing the intrinsic value of cultivating a supportive and healthy work environment elevates companies’ reputation and attractiveness as employers but also lays the groundwork for sustained success. To foster a workforce that is healthier, more optimistic and resilient, it is essential to prioritize all aspects of well-being, encompassing emotional, environmental, physical, social, and financial health. 

Having resources and training is extremely important to establish new employees—or the veterans ones—in an environment where it is possible (and accessible) to seek support, share challenges, and promote a stronger synergy between company and employee. 

This journey of prioritizing and investing in mental health is not just a challenge; it is a goal worth pursuing with dedication. When companies make the decision to place employee well-being at the forefront of their agenda, it becomes a beneficial achievement that may bring unexpected milestones. Prioritizing mental health is about embracing a fundamental aspect of humanity and flourishing as a community of individuals united in a shared pursuit of well-being and fulfillment.


Sledding my woes away on the mountain

How I discovered that snow days are good for the soul.

If you know me personally, you’d know I’m not an outdoor girlie. My dad, on the other hand, is the king of the outdoors. Whenever he wants to go for a walk, I always pass. Little did I know, fresh wintery air would do me good—both physically and mentally.

The last couple of months haven’t been the best. I’ve never been one to complain about every single detail in my life, but when things pile up, my anxiety shoots straight through the roof. 

Once 2024 hit, I was excited to start the year off fresh. I was prepared to leave behind all the dark thoughts related to my surgery in 2023. But one week into 2024, my car decided to give me a nice little welcome gift: the “check engine” light. Not only that, but my brakes were squeaking like mad. 

When my boyfriend and I dropped off Jukey (my beloved Nissan) at the mechanic, I was praying that this wasn’t going to cost me more than $500. I was shaking like a leaf as we drove off. 

The following day, the mechanic dropped a big one on me—the whole job would cost me $1,700. My heart fell out of my chest and anger bubbled inside of me. I told the mechanic to go through with the job. I couldn’t afford it, but I had no other choice.

In these scenarios, my anxiety jumps to the worst situations. I started thinking that I wouldn’t be able to save towards my goals for the year. I wouldn’t be moving along how I’d planned. I had a bit of a breakdown.

Luckily, my boyfriend was there to help me get through this time. My anxiety still loomed over my head but at least I had something positive to look forward to: snow tubing with my friends and boyfriend.

I think a bit of fresh air was just what I needed. According to the Ontario Parks website, we should be aiming to move our bodies 20 to 30 minutes per day outdoors during the winter time. By doing so, we’d immediately feel calmer mentally and our blood pressure would go down.

The day of the activity, I was looking forward to a change in scenery and getting some fresh air. We opted to get the full experience package at the mountain near Saint-Sauveur that included an option to bobsled.

Bobsledding for the first time was the most exhilarating thing that I’ve done in a while. I felt like I was in the Olympics, and I’d never felt such an adrenaline rush. I opted for my boyfriend to be the one to push the sled and jump in as we went down. Knowing me, my clumsy self would probably fall to the side or hurt myself.

Going down the mountain at lightning speed, I was so focused on the feeling of being so happy with wintery air gliding against my face. For the couple of hours that we spent at the mountain, I wasn’t focused on my anxiety. I only had positive thoughts and a really good time. I screamed it out, laughed it out, and most importantly, made memories that I’ll cherish for a long time.

If I can recommend anything to anyone going through a tough time right now, this is it. Get outside and get some air—it’ll feed your mind and soul.


Make your hobby a priority

Integrating a hobby into your everyday life is essential for your well being. 

During lockdown in 2021, I came across a YouTube video on how to make a doll. I was mind-blown after seeing how a few pieces of felt, cotton and thread came together into a beautiful creation. I went on Amazon and purchased all the supplies needed—it took me three days to make my first doll and the process felt relaxing. All of a sudden, I went from feeling bored to being busy sketching and sewing more dolls. My time in lockdown was no longer depressing, but rather fulfilling.

Memories of knitting when I was in high school all came back to me. I started knitting again, and realized that in the same way doll-making was getting me through the pandemic, knitting helped me cope with anxiety and depression. 

Creating something is so calming; seeing something forming before your eyes is such a rewarding experience. More importantly, it helped me discover new things about myself. I learned that I am a creative person. My passion and curiosity for crafting grew, and I started crocheting.

The time I had alone, putting thousands of stitches together, allowed me to self-reflect. It was a way to calm my mind and take a step back from everything to process what I was going through. Crafting feels like you’re making magic, which made me feel joyful. I never imagined that something as simple as yarn could have this power. I had consistently underestimated the power of having a hobby.

We all need a little fresh air in our chaotic schedule. We experience so many feelings and situations throughout the day, and we must discover ways to release those negative emotions. Some people do that through writing, others paint or go for a run. Regardless of our chosen hobby, the outcome is guaranteed to be positive.

Studies have shown that a hobby improves mental health; it reduces stress and creates a sense of escapism. People experience fulfillment and a boost in their self-confidence. Having a hobby will also enhance your social life, which helps reduce feelings of loneliness. From my experience, crochet helped me make new friends as I joined crochet workshops. 

Interestingly, hobbies can actually enhance productivity.  A study led by Kevin Eschleman, an assistant psychology professor at San Francisco State University, showed that people with creative hobbies had 15 to 30 percent higher performance rankings. When we unwind, our mind becomes more focused, which improves performance.

Overall, having a hobby contributes to our personal growth. We learn new things about ourselves, discover unexpected passions, and make ourselves more curious. My hobbies transformed my mind and made me feel better about myself. Incorporating hobbies into your daily life is as simple as reading before bed, redirecting screen time toward something more creative, or crocheting on the bus. Check out Concordia’s Student Life to discover available workshops and activities on campus.

Student Life

Concordia, let’s talk about our wellbeing

Learn about the university’s resources and services at Chime In’s mental health fair

Last year, Bell Let’s Talk brought together members of the Concordia community looking to keep the conversation about mental health going throughout the year. They joined forces to create Chime In, a group aimed at informing students about the mental health resources available to them on campus and in their community. With this goal in mind, Chime In will be hosting a mental health fair on Jan. 31—which coincides with this year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day.

Chime In—an acronym that stands for connectedness, hope, identity, meaning and empowerment—is a collaborative effort between Concordia students and student organizations, the university’s counselling and psychological services, as well as the Montreal-based non-profit Collective Community Services (CCS). Also among the group’s members are, a national organization that aims to eliminate the stigma around mental health, and the Concordia Students’ Nightline, an evening and weekend listening service.

“As a counselling service, we realized that we can’t do everything alone,” said Howard Magonet, the director of Concordia’s counselling and psychological services. “The more partners we have to go out and talk about mental health to reduce stigma of mental illness, the better.”

The mental health fair will welcome representatives from Chime In and other Concordia services, such as the campus wellness and support services, the Sexual Assault Resource Centre (SARC), recreation and athletic services, Concordia’s Multi-faith and Spirituality Centre and the Native Resource Centre. “The fair will provide a really important forum and fabric to the community,” said Alia Nurmohamed, a Chime In student representative.

“Often people don’t have the vocabulary to even understand what they are going through,” said Jillian Ritchie, a spokesperson for CCS. “[So we] help give them the resources and the information they need.”

Chime In’s goal is to change the discourse around mental health by focusing on a holistic view—taking care of one’s wellbeing at all levels. According to Concordia psychologist Irene Petsopoulis, the fair will focus on the four pillars of mental health: physical, emotional, spiritual and mental. There will be activities showing the value of physical exercise in improving mental health. The fair will also showcase alternative methods to talk therapy, such as pet or art therapy, the latter of which is offered by community art studios called Art Hives.

Some people feel more comfortable using one technique to improve mental health rather than another, Magonet explained. The fair will expose students to a wide range of methods so they see how varied the help can be and determine what feels right for them, he added.

The fair’s inviting environment will encourage students to ask questions and find out what resources are available to them, Nurmohamed said. “[The fair] starts a conversation that invites people in a way that is not intimidating,” she added. “We’re at a turning point in the way we converse about mental health.”

The mental health fair will take place on Wednesday, Jan. 31 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the atrium of the EV building. For more information about the event, visit the Concordia website.

Student Life

Encouraging the well-being of students

A creative arts workshop day will be held as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week

Connectedness, hope, identity, meaning and empowerment make up the acronym Chime In, which is a recently created student services group. “Our mandate is to help students better understand what the services are [at Concordia], how to access them and let them know what they do have access to,” said Alia Nurmohamed, a student representative at Chime In. “We are here for you. If you need something, there is always a willing hand to help.”

According to Nurmohamed, it can be very daunting to ask someone for help when starting at a new school. The vast service networks at universities can be confusing, particularly for students fresh out of CEGEP or high school. It’s not that the [services] are hard to access, but sometimes it’s hard to navigate and the information isn’t always easy to find,” Nurmohamed said. “So having some place or some people who are always there to better direct students is a good goal to have.”

The group began in May 2017 and consists of students representatives Nurmohamed and Jade Se; Howard Magonet, the director of Concordia’s Counselling and Psychological Services; Jillian Ritchie, an outreach coordinator from AMI Quebec; and Alexis Lahorra, a student representative and youth mental health advocate for the mental health awareness student group

Chime In will be hosting a day of creative arts workshops on Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Library Building auditorium as part of Mental Illness Awareness Week. “To have a day of creative arts workshops speaks to everyone,” Nurmohamed said. “I personally believe that we all have our natural talents. Some of us naturally love music, reading—we all have these aspects in our lives that we turn to fulfill us, to sustain us.”

The various groups from Campus Wellness and Support Services will be present at the workshops, including Counselling and Psychological Services,, AMI Quebec and Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre. “There will be a Chime In member to help direct and talk to people—all of us are going to be there for this one purpose to raise awareness for mental health and well-being,” she said.

The event will feature five different workshops, one of which will be given by La Ruche, a community art studio created by Concordia’s creative arts therapy department. A large amount of art supplies for painting, drawing and sculpting will be made available to workshop participants. There will also be a creative writing workshop allowing participants to create their own graphic novel. “When you are writing for your well-being, it can be so deeply introspective, reflective and very personal—I think art and writing intersects in so many beautiful ways,” Nurmohamed said.

CJLO has prepared a silent disco as part of the music workshop where people can tune in to the radio with their smartphones, pop in their headphones and groove however they feel like in the moment. For those who enjoy physical relaxation, there will be a session of chair yoga. If you’re a fan of Concordia’s pet therapy program that takes place during midterm and finals, there will be a workshop offering some relaxing play time with a number of dogs. Cupcakes will also be provided at the event.

In addition to the workshops, there will be a banner where people can leave their own message of what well-being means for them. The banner will then be placed in common areas around campus. “Other students will be able to see what well-being means to their peers and just how much it touches every one of us all the time,” Nurmohamed said.

According to Nurmohamed, when people think of services at Concordia, they often think of health services in terms of physical bodily functions. “There is much more to that. Your well-being is every aspect of you—it is physical, mental, emotional and spiritual,” she said.

In order to fill in the gaps in the university’s services, Chime In student representative Jade Se is leading a new initiative called the Concordia Student Nightline. This active listening service will add to the similar services by other groups at Concordia. This student nightline will be available as a hotline for students to call and obtain well-being services at night and on the weekends.

Nurmohamed said students can access active listening services during the day from Counselling and Psychological Services and peer support at the Centre for Gender Advocacy and the Multi-Faith and Spirituality Centre. “But what happens at night? Or over the weekend?” she asked. is among the other campus groups looking to better the well-being of students. The group often hosts social events like poetry slams, open mic nights and parties.

The university’s Counselling and Psychological Services also offer students access to eight sessions with a registered therapist. According to Nurmohamed, you can go through a 15-minute psychological triage, where you can talk to a professional and get some help, support, tools and resources.

“That’s what I like about Concordia—they never forget their students,” Nurmohamed said. “I’ve never met a group of administrators who are so willing to help all the time. Everyone that I have talked to about doing this, about the organization of this event, every group on campus is so for it. They just want to help. It’s a great way to remind people that we are here for you.”

All workshops are free and will take place on Thursday Oct. 5 from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. in Concordia University’s Library Building auditorium.

Graphic courtesy of Alia Nurmohamed

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