Vancouver and Halifax, Canada – On Tuesday, March 22th, 2022, Autism Nova Scotia (Autism NS) and Canucks Autism Network (CAN) launched a free online training for employers, HR professionals, or anyone looking to improve mental health supports for Autistic employees and job seekers in the workplace.
The free training, funded by Ready, Willing, and Able, is self-paced and covers the following topics:
- Explanation of autism and the mental health concerns that Autistic individuals often encounter in the workplace
- Practical low-cost or no-cost strategies that are critical to the well-being of Autistic employees, yet benefit all employees
- Strategies on how to identify and respond to a mental health crisis from an autism-aware lens
- How to direct employees to external mental health resources
- How to select inclusive employee benefits
A group of advisors based in Ontario, Nova Scotia, and British Columbia came together to advise on the development of the training. The group was made up of Autistic advocates, employers who recruit or hire inclusively, and clinicians who support the mental health of Autistic youth and adults. Managers in Workplace Mental Health with the Mental Health Commission of Canada also provided constructive feedback on the training.
Kevin A., an Autistic advocate and professional, was among the group of advisors.
“Minimizing noise can be simple and beneficial in many workplaces”, stated A. “But it’s also important that everyone in the workplace knows what autism is, so that Autistic people’s behaviour isn’t misinterpreted as ‘inappropriate’, or so that they can get direct, clear feedback rather than being left to ‘read between the lines’.”
Tammy Morris, Neurodiversity Centres of Excellence Leader for EY Canada, was also a part of the advisory group.
“It is great to see a disability resource that brings together healthcare insurance benefits, EFAP, and public supports, offering a full picture for employers, employees and job seekers who have had to navigate silos,” said Morris. “The training is a good balance of informational content, definitions, videos, case scenarios and take away tips.”
CAN and Autism NS see the training as a step towards addressing the gap in mental health supports for Autistic youth and adults in Canada.
“We know there are critical service gaps in mental health supports for Autistic youth and adults across Canada. This online training was created in direct response to that growing need and is a crucial step towards addressing the issue” said Cynthia Carroll, Executive Director of Autism Nova Scotia.
CAN CEO Britt Andersen further noted, “The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted the employment and job search of many individuals on the spectrum who were already facing pre-existing barriers to employment. Our goal with the training is to equip employers with better knowledge and resources to support employees or job applicants on the spectrum.”
About Canucks Autism Network (CAN)
Canucks Autism Network provides programs for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families, while promoting acceptance and inclusion through community engagement and training initiatives across BC and beyond.
About Autism Nova Scotia (Autism NS)
Autism Nova Scotia is a community-based organization that builds understanding, acceptance, and inclusion for Autistics/individuals on the Autism Spectrum and their families through leadership, advocacy, education, training and programming across the lifespan.
For media inquiries:
Lindsay Petrie, Director of Marketing & Communications
Canucks Autism Network
Mariann Peters, Executive Assistant
Autism Nova Scotia