If you are in distress, you can call or text 988 at any time. If it is an emergency, call 9-1-1 or go to your local emergency department.


Volunteer doctor holds up two fingers as he checks a young girl's vision. The girl and her mom are visiting an outdoor free clinic.

Who is behind the Psychological Health and Safety Toolkit for Primary Care Teams and Training Programs?

The Psychological Health and Safety Toolkit for Primary Care Teams and Training Programs was developed in partnership by the Canadian Health Workforce Network (CHWN), the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), and the University of Ottawa (uOttawa).

This project is supported by Team Primary Care (TPC), an initiative of the Foundation for Advancing Family Medicine (FAFM) funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). It is co-led by the College of Family Physicians of Canada and the CHWN.

The overarching goal of this toolkit is to support comprehensive primary care teams and training programs foster the psychological health and safety of teams through the adoption and adaptation of a set of evidence-informed and sector-specific tools.

Portrait of teamwork - doctor and nurses at hospital

Built for comprehensive primary care teams and training programs

As primary care systems across Canada evolve toward team-based approaches, it is critical to ensure that teams and training programs have the support they need to create and work in psychologically healthy and safe environments.

The Psychological Health and Safety Toolkit for Primary Care Teams and Training Programs is here to help, offering access to evidence-informed resources handpicked for comprehensive primary care teams.[1]

The benefits of psychological health and safety for teams and trainees

A psychologically healthy and safe environment leads to improved team learning, team performance, and continuous quality improvement environments (Donovan and Mcauliffe, 2020).

When team psychological health and safety are prioritized, whether at work or in training programs, individuals feel safe to speak up and express concerns or new ideas without fear of negative reactions from peers, leaders, or instructors/preceptors (Houbby et al, 2021).

Under these conditions, teams and trainees can feel more committed as a team member, be more engaged in improvements to health-care quality and work processes, and experience joy at work (Donovan and McAulifee, 2020; Luther & Flattes, 2022). When they do not, they shut off, burnout, and disconnect from the team — which reduces the communication needed to promote health-care quality (Luther and Flattes, 2022). Unreasonable workload expectations or expressions of microaggressions can also make team members and trainees feel overwhelmed and silenced (Houbby et al, 2021).

High five, teamwork and doctors hands in collaboration for mission, goal or team building together. Mindset, target or medical group with trust, motivation or support for vision, winning or success.
a senior doctor is looking at some ideas with a nurse . They are using stick notes on a glass display board in a medical meeting environment.

Key factors for psychologically healthy and safe workplaces

Canada’s National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace, recognized as a leading practice by the Health Standards Organization, is a set of voluntary guidelines designed to help organizations prevent psychological harm and promote psychological well-being. It identifies 13 psychosocial factors that can promote or hinder psychological health and safety in a workplace.

Based on consultations with health-care organizations, the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and HealthCareCAN developed two additional factors especially relevant to health care: protection from moral distress and support for psychological self-care.

These 15 factors guided the selection of resources for the Psychological Health and Safety Toolkit for Primary Care Teams, which are organized by seven main themes outlined below.

1. Organizational and team culture
2. Workload management and work-life balance
3. Clear leadership and expectations
4. Psychological protection
5. Protection of physical safety
6. Protection from moral distress
7. Support for psychological self-care

[1] This inventory is by no means exhaustive. The Canadian Health Workforce Network and the Mental Health Commission of Canada are unable to comment on the quality of individual programs or services. Consequently, their inclusion in this toolkit should not be considered an endorsement of particular programs or organizations.

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