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Chronic mental stress

Good mental health is key to having healthy and productive workplaces in Ontario. People with work-related chronic mental stress may be eligible for WSIB benefits. To be eligible, chronic mental stress must be predominantly caused by a substantial work-related stressor. Mental stress caused by an employer’s management decisions or actions is generally not covered by the WSIB.

If a claim is allowed, we will help with recovery and return to work. WSIB benefits can include psychological assessment, treatment, prescription medications, wage replacement and return-to-work services.

Preventing work-related chronic mental stress

Everyone has a role to play in preventing work-related chronic mental stress. Employees should take action and report significant stressors like bullying and harassment to their employer.

Mental Health in the workplace

Mental health is an important part of a healthy and safe workplace and employers should take action to learn how to promote healthy minds in the workplace. Employers looking for best practice on prevention can visit our mental health in the workplace webpage for more information.

Frequently asked questions

What is work-related chronic mental stress?

Work-related chronic mental stress is an appropriately diagnosed mental disorder that has been predominantly caused by a substantial work-related stressor or series of stressors.

A work-related stressor would generally be considered substantial if it is excessive in intensity and/or duration compared with the normal pressures and tensions experienced by people working in similar circumstances.

Why has the WSIB introduced a policy on work-related chronic mental stress?

Good mental health is key to having healthy and productive workplaces in Ontario. We want anyone suffering from work-related chronic mental stress to get the support and help they need to return to work.

Why did the WSIB update the policy?

On October 6, 2017, the WSIB released the new Chronic Mental Stress Policy. On December 14, 2017 the provincial government passed additional amendments to the mental stress provisions of the Workplace Safety and Insurance Act, 1997. People with work-related chronic mental stress that occurred on or after April 29, 2014, and who have not filed a claim with the WSIB for that mental stress before January 1, 2018, may now also be eligible for WSIB benefits. People who have not yet received a final decision on their mental stress claim by the WSIB and/or the WSIAT as of January 1, 2018 may also be eligible for benefits. We updated our Chronic Mental Stress Policy to reflect these changes.

What are some examples of what would be considered work-related chronic mental stress?

To be eligible for WSIB benefits, your chronic mental stress must be predominantly caused by a substantial work-related stressor. Here are some examples of work-related chronic mental stress:

  • A teacher is the subject of demeaning comments from her vice-principal on a regular basis, quite often in front of her teaching colleagues and develops an anxiety disorder as a result.
  • A housekeeping attendant is the subject of inappropriate and harassing comments from several co-workers on a regular basis. He attempts to confront his co-workers but the harassment continues and in fact increases, and he develops a depression disorder as a result.

What are some examples of what wouldn’t be covered under the policy?

Mental stress caused by an employer’s management decisions is generally not covered by the WSIB. For example, a mental stress injury caused by an employer’s decision in the following situations would likely not be covered:

  • A grocery clerk's shift schedule is changed by the employer.
  • A general labourer has been observed on a number of occasions not adhering to company safety rules. He is eventually suspended by the employer due to continued safety violations.
  • An employer repeatedly extends a probationary account representative's contract and makes no offer of permanent employment.

When does the policy come into effect?

The Chronic Mental Stress policy and the revised Traumatic Mental Stress policy are effective January 1, 2018.

Who is entitled to benefits for work-related chronic mental stress under the policy?

People with chronic mental stress with an accident date on or after January 1, 2018 must meet three  conditions to be entitled to WSIB benefits under this policy:

  1. an appropriate regulated health professional, such as a family physician, provides a diagnosis based on the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM)
  2. the person has experienced a substantial work-related stressor(s), like workplace bullying or harassment, and
  3. the substantial work-related stressor(s) was the predominant cause of the appropriately diagnosed mental stress injury.

People with chronic mental stress with an accident date before January 1, 2018 may be eligible for WSIB benefits if they meet the three conditions above and if they:

  1. have an accident date on or after April 29, 2014 and they have not filed a claim with the WSIB for the mental stress before January 1, 2018; or
  2. have not yet received a final decision on their mental stress claim by the WSIB and/or the WSIAT as of January 1, 2018.

People with chronic mental stress with an accident date after April 29, 2014, who have not filed a claim with the WSIB for the mental stress before January 1, 2018, must have filed a claim on or before July 1, 2018 to be eligible. 

Early psychological treatment is important for the recovery and return to work of people who have experienced a psychological injury or illness at work. If you are currently experiencing chronic mental stress you should seek treatment from your health care provider.

What kind of support will the WSIB provide people with work-related chronic mental stress?

Good mental health is key to having healthy and productive workplaces , and we want anyone suffering from work-related chronic mental stress to get the support and help they need. If your claim is allowed under our new policy, we will help you recover and return to work. WSIB benefits can include psychological assessment, treatment, prescription medications, wage replacement and return-to-work services.

How is chronic mental stress different from traumatic mental stress?

Work-related traumatic mental stress involves events that are generally accepted as traumatic, such as a criminal act or witnessing a horrific accident. In most cases a traumatic event will be sudden and unexpected. For example, witnessing a workplace fatality or being the victim of an armed robbery could be the cause of work-related traumatic mental stress.

Work-related chronic mental stress involves identifiable stressful events that are not traumatic, but are substantial, which means that they are excessive in intensity and/or duration compared with the normal pressures and tensions experienced by other people working in similar circumstances. For example, being the target of a co-worker who persistently uses racial epithets and abusive language.


To learn more, read our Chronic Mental Stress policy (Policy 15-03-14) (PDF).

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