Creation of Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self Management, and Work

Press release – Université Laval’s Faculty of Social Sciences is very proud to have received two $1 million contributions from Relief and Beneva, the company created by the merger of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance, for the creation of the Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self-Management, and Work, powered by Beneva.

The COVID-19 crisis has caused significant upheavals in the workplace. Depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorders now constitute a major challenge. The pandemic will have lasting effects on the ways we work and our mental health. Working from home, which may continue to be an option of choice for some employers once the pandemic has subsided, presents its own set of challenges when it comes to healthy performance and creating an environment that fosters well-being.

All this has made it clear that employers and mental health support organizations desperately need more evidence-based data to help them support self-management and be proactive in preventing mental health issues.

“Work environments have a significant impact on mental health. This Chair will help develop scientific knowledge on self‑management, mental health, and healthy performance in the workplace so that workers and the people around them can adopt self‑management practices to support their mental health,” explains Chairholder Simon Coulombe, an associate professor in Université Laval’s Department of Industrial Relations.

Self‑management refers to the daily strategies people adopt to prevent or reduce symptoms of mental health issues and optimize their well-being in their personal and work lives. Lately, workers have been exposed to a number of stressors that jeopardize their well-being, such as potential job loss, having to work from home, difficulties balancing their personal and work lives, and the forced use of information and communication technologies without proper preparation.

Support for self‑management has the potential to help organizations, managers, and workers facing such challenges take action to prevent psychological distress and help people living with mental health issues recover.

natural strategic partnerships with Relief and Beneva

Despite scientific advances, mental health self-management has made little headway in the workplace. Self-management is also seldom included in training, education, and intervention programs for the general public, employees, managers, and other workplace resources.

Working with Relief, a national mental health organization uniquely specialized in the self‑management of anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorders, and Beneva, dedicated to the well-being of its employees, clients, partners, and the community, the Chair will advance scientific knowledge and combine it with the existing practical and experiential expertise of mental health organizations and businesses. Relief and Beneva will each contribute $1 million to the project over five years.

“By adding concrete knowledge, contributing to the assessment of Relief’s programs, and creating other tools to help workers self‑manage their mental health, the Chair will provide essential information to support Relief’s services and its new Relief Business program,” says Jean-Rémy Provost, executive director of Relief.

“Mental health issues can happen at any time, to anyone. At Beneva, we not only provide mental health support initiatives to our clients, we endorse those for the community as well,” says Éric Trudel, executive vice-president of group insurance at Beneva. In light of our mutualist values, our objective is to foster real social change. This is why I’m very proud and pleased to announce our financial partnership to fund the creation of the Relief Research Chair in Mental Health, Self-Management, and Work.”

The knowledge acquired on self‑management, mental health, and healthy performance will also be included in educational programs and the curricula of various training programs. This will help build awareness among people working in industrial relations, health, and social services and increase their ability to promote mental health.

“This research chair could quickly make a real difference in the lives of many people,” says Université Laval Rector Sophie D’Amours. “It meets a societal post‑pandemic need and is aligned with Université Laval’s objectives regarding sustainable health and well-being. I would like to thank all the stakeholders and partners who have come together to make a real difference in mental health.”

Adds François Gélineau, University Laval’s Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences, “The Chair is a perfect example of the Faculty’s longstanding commitment to society, which is rooted in knowledge and expressed through actions dedicated to improving the well-being of members of our community.”

Ultimately, the theoretical and practical knowledge acquired by the Chair will be disseminated in work settings, community settings, and the health and social service system, thereby improving the mental health and healthy performance of Quebecers and all Canadians at work.

about the Université Laval

Driven by innovation and the pursuit of excellence, Université Laval is one of Canada’s leading research universities, ranking 7th in the country, with over $400 million in research funding last year. A leader in distance education, it boasts more than 1,650 professors as well as 2,300 lecturers and other academic and research staff who share their knowledge with some 45,000 students, 27% of whom are enrolled in graduate studies. The university values diversity and is proud of the members of its community, who hail from 135 countries. The oldest French-language university in North America, Université Laval has, to this day, educated more than 319,000 people who each contribute in their own way to the advancement of society. 

about Relief - The path of mental health

Relief is a center of mental health expertise and support with a network of partners across Canada. Recognized as a reference and leader for common mental disorders, Relief has developed a social innovation by popularizing its unique concept of mental health self‑management support. Its bilingual services are integrated into workplaces and within community social service and support ecosystems.

about Beneva

Beneva was created through the coming together of La Capitale and SSQ Insurance to become the largest insurance mutual in Canada with more than 3.5 million members and customers. Beneva employs over 5,000 dedicated employees: people looking out for people. Its human approach is rooted in mutualist values that are shared by all its employees. With over $25 billion in assets under management, Beneva positions itself as a major player in the insurance and financial services industry. Its head office is located in Quebec City. For more information, please consult

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