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A new $1.4-million research project to assess the impact of a federally funded program aimed at improving mental health in the workplace will be announced Thursday at a press conference in Toronto.

The National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace program was launched a year ago and has since been downloaded more than 16,000 times by Canadian companies large and small.

The new three-year study will involve 25 companies ranging from Halifax's Habitat for Humanity division to Manulife Financial, Mount Sinai Hospital and the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver.

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It should allow government and businesses to determine what impact the program has in the workplace, such as cost savings due to reduced absenteeism, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), which is spearheading the project.

"With roughly half a million Canadians missing work each week due to mental illness, Canadian employers know it's time to invest in a psychologically safe workplace," Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the MHCC, said in a release.

"This new research project is a chance to drive momentum for workplace mental health across Canada."

The case study, which will start in February, will be primarily funded by MHCC, the Great-West Life Centre for Mental Health and Montreal-based Lundbeck Canada, a subsidiary of an international research-based pharmaceutical company that focuses on diseases of the central nervous system and, more recently, oncology.

The Standard, available online at no cost, offers companies tools to foster mental health, improve employee well-being and prevent psychological harm. It was funded by the government of Canada, Great-West Life and Bell Canada.

Also announced Thursday was the first mental health training program for Canadian businesses offered through Queen's University. The Mental Health@Work Training Program will provide managers who take the in-class and online course with a university certificate.

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