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May 16, 2023

Welcome to RIMScast. Your host is Justin Smulison, Business Content Manager at RIMS, the Risk and Insurance Management Society.


May is Mental Health Awareness Month and it’s an event that we’ve covered here on RIMScast and something that RIMS takes very seriously. Here to talk about what risk professionals can do to help their co-workers and organizations is Michelle Drew, Manager, Corporate Insurance and BCM, The CSA Group (formerly the Canadian Standards Association); CSA is a standards organization that develops standards in 57 areas. CSA Group launched a volunteer program to increase psychological safety. Mental Health Ambassador Program (aka The Map). Michelle is one of the mental health ambassadors. These ambassadors are volunteers trained to provide discreet listening and assistance to anyone seeking mental health support and can help individuals navigate CSA's range of mental health resources.

Michelle is also the president of the ORIMS chapter so she shares a little update about what’s happening in Ontario and RIMS Canada.


Key Takeaways:

[:01] About RIMScast.

[:27] About today’s episode with ORIMS President Michelle Drew: How RIMS professionals can make an impact during Mental Health Awareness Month, also RIMS Canada news.

[:41] All about upcoming RIMS webinars, and more!

[1:17] The RIMS Canada Conference 2023 has been announced for September 11th‒14th in Ottowa! Visit for more information.

[1:35] May is Mental Health Awareness month and it’s an event that we’ve covered here on RIMScast and something that RIMS takes very seriously.

[1:42] Some quick stats from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI):

One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year. One in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year. Fifty percent of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24.

[2:03] This is impacting the workplace. And here to talk about what risk professionals can do to help their co-workers and organizations against the backdrop of Mental Health Awareness Month is Michelle Drew, Manager for Corporate Insurance and BCM at The CSA Group, formerly the Canadian Standards Association.

[2:25] The CSA Group launched a volunteer program to increase psychological safety. It’s called the Mental Health Ambassador Program. Michelle is one of the mental health ambassadors.

[2:34] These mental health ambassadors are volunteers trained to provide discreet listening and assistance to anyone seeking mental health support. They offer a safe space and, when requested, can help individuals navigate CSA's range of mental health resources.

[2:48] Michelle will speak about launching the Mental Health Ambassadors. She is also the president of the ORIMS chapter so we’ll get a little update from her about what’s happening in Ontario and RIMS Canada.

[3:13] Justin met Michelle last year at some virtual events and RIMS Canada 2022 in Halifax. Justin welcomes Michelle Drew to RIMScast. This episode has been planned since January. There are risk management protocols for getting a guest on RIMScast.
[4:02] As the CSA Group Mental Health Ambassador, Michelle is there to support and help. She acts as a bridge between employees and the mental health and wellness resources that CSA has, like the Employee and Family Assistance Program. Ambassadors listen to employees and steer them toward the available resources.

[5:14] Oftentimes, the employees just don’t know where to start. The ambassadors are not mental health professionals and don’t provide treatment but they try and get the employees connected with things that will help.

[5:50] Michelle has familiarity with mental health challenges and she shares some of her family experiences with them. She says it’s important to talk about mental health and remove the stigma from it.

[6:39] Michelle believes the mental health ambassador program is a great program to help support employees. CSA is all about safety. Mental well-being is a part of being safe. Michelle wants the people she works with to be happy, productive, and engaged in what they are doing. Mental well-being is important for all of that.

[7:28] Mental health authority guests on RIMScast a couple of years ago were concerned that the pandemic was going to exacerbate things for a lot of folks. Michelle agrees. Going from being able to be around people all the time to suddenly being encouraged to stay home goes against our social nature. We like to be around people.

[8:05] The pandemic itself was an unexpected unknown. There was fear that went with it. None of us knew how to react to or handle it. Stress can deeply affect people who are already having issues.

[8:47] When the call for volunteers came out, Michelle immediately knew she wanted to be in the ambassador program. She signed up, did the training, and got involved. She thinks it’s a great program to help support people through their day-to-day  We all have stresses. It’s helpful to have all of these resources and other people to talk to.

[9:30] Michelle notes that those of us who suffer from mental illness or challenges have a lot to offer. Sometimes we need an opportunity to be able to bring that to the table.

[9:50] Having a company that knows that sometimes minor tweaks to your environment can bring out the best in you can make a difference. Michelle shares the challenges her oldest child faces trying to find their place in the world. Michelle would like more workplaces to make their environment more safe.

[10:31] Michelle’s ambassador training was two days of Mental Health First Aid, a program open to anybody. Then there were a couple of days of training from the Employee Assistance Program to enhance the Mental Health First Aid program and make sure the ambassadors understood the resources that were available.

[11:51] RIMS plug time! Sponsor a weekly or dedicated episode of RIMScast! Contact us at RIMS Risk Appetite Management virtual workshops are coming up, May 17‒18 & July 12‒13! It’s a two-day course on navigating the complex and critical area of risk appetite management! See the link. To support education visit

[13:45] CSA Group is the Canadian Standards Association. They are a leader in developing standards to make the world safer and in testing, inspecting, and certifying products to make sure that the products that get into the marketplace are safe. They have global operations.

[14:17] CSA Group is a private company that works with various government agencies to make sure that the standards they publish are included in legislation to make the world a better place.

[15:40] Michelle suggests that companies wanting to establish a mental health initiative should start with an accredited trainer. Decide what it is you are hoping to accomplish by rolling out such a program. CSA Group started with training selected interested employees with Mental Health First Aid as Step One in a long-term plan for the base.

[16:15] Michelle recommends reaching out to community mental health resources to help you start a company program.

[17:04] Risk managers need to be ready to be involved in a mental health program. Michelle says being able to help others is a huge part of what gives risk managers satisfaction. Model a healthy lifestyle. Talk openly to colleagues about mental health challenges and the things people can do to improve their mental well-being.

[18:07] Reach out to your HR department and offer to give them a hand in putting a program into place. Support them in whatever is required to get it done. Be open and honest with experiences you have had, the things that you’ve learned, and the things you want to help do. Normalize the conversation around mental health. Remove the stigma.

[19:05] It may take time for people to be confident in talking about mental health. A private conversation may be the best place to start. Or a series of conversations with time to think between them. In team meetings, talk about a particular topic or remind people about resources. People may come to you for support in a private conversation.

[20:12] Michelle is president of ORIMS, the Ontario Risk and Insurance Management Society chapter. It is the largest chapter outside of the U.S. Every once in a while, they tie for the largest RIMS chapter anywhere.

[21:03] ORIMS is holding Spring Fling on May 18th including a suite at the Blue Jays vs. the New York Yankees game. On June 20th ORIMS has a golf tournament at Deer Creek Golf Club. It sells out quickly!

[22:06] ORIMS is working hard at building out its social programs and professional development. Watch for workshop sessions. 

[22:41] The RIMS Canada 2023 Conference 2023 call for session proposals is out. RIMS Canada 2023 is a great opportunity to get together with your risk management colleagues and industry partners to celebrate being a risk manager! There will be many things to learn and people to talk to. Michelle hopes to do a session with someone!

[23:25] ORIMS will do the Train to Ottowa. The conference this year is in Ottowa, September 11th through 14th. Stay tuned for details. ORIMS site is

[24:44] How did Justin do as MC last year? Michelle says awesome! Anyway, he’s happy to get an invite back this year! Justin shares his memories of 2021 and 2022. He loves working with ORIMS!

[25:50] Justin thanks Michelle for joining RIMScast and speaks about getting together at RISKWORLD 2023 and future RIMS events.

[26:02] Justin says a “special thanks to my friend and ORIMS President Michelle Drew for joining me today.” See the links about mental health awareness and coverage from Risk Management Magazine. Remember to join us at RIMS Canada Conference 2023. Visit We want to see you there!

[26:32] Sponsor a RIMScast episode to reach a global audience! Justin shares other RIMS offers, including a transitional membership!


Mentioned in this Episode:

RIMS Canada 2023 — Sept. 11‒14 in Ottawa!

Spencer Educational Foundation — Risk Manager on Campus

Contribute to Risk Management Magazine

Erik Severson Memorial 5K — May 2023 — Register today!

RIMS Diversity Equity & Inclusion page

Upcoming Webinars:

Risk Appetite Management | May 17‒18 & July 12‒13 — Register by 5/16 for May’s session.

Harness The Power of Data for Better Insurance Outcomes | Sponsored by TÜV SÜD | May 18, 2023

Large-Scale Risk: How Walmart Manages the Risks Unique to Large and Growing Companies | Sponsored by Riskonnect | June 22, 2023

See the full calendar of RIMS Virtual Workshops

Related RIMScast Episodes:

Mental Health in the Workplace with Darcy Gruttadaro, Director of the Center for Workplace Mental Health (2021)

RIMS 2023 Risk Manager of the Year Theresa Severson

Riskworld Keynote Rachel Sheerin On How Risk Leaders Can Combat and Harness Burnout (2022)

Sponsored RIMScast Episodes:

Insights into the Gig Economy and its Contractors | Sponsored by Zurich (NEW!)

The Importance of Disaster Planning Relationships | Sponsored by ServiceMaster (NEW!)

Technology, Media and Telecom Solutions in 2023 | Sponsored by Allianz

Analytics in Action | Sponsored by Alliant

Captive Market Outlook and Industry Insights | Sponsored by AXA XL

“Using M&A Insurance: The How and Why” | Sponsored by Prudent Insurance Brokers Ltd.

“Zurich’s Construction Sustainability Outlook for 2023”

“Aon’s 2022 Atlantic Hurricane Season Overview”

“ESG Through the Risk Lens” | Sponsored by Riskonnect

“A Look at the Cyber Insurance Market” | Sponsored by AXA XL

“How to Reduce Lithium-Ion Battery Fire Risks” | Sponsored by TÜV SÜD

“Managing Global Geopolitical Risk in 2022 and Beyond” | Sponsored by AXA XL

“Keeping Subcontractors Safe Through Partner Elevation” | Sponsored by Highwire

“ESG: A Responsibility and a Growing Megatrend” | Sponsored by Prudent Insurance Brokers Ltd.

“Prioritizing People: Focusing on Your Team to Deliver Exceptional Quality and Service to Your Clients” | Sponsored by Gallagher Bassett

“Bermuda Opportunities in 2022 with BDA Chair Stephen Weinstein” | Sponsored by Bermuda Business Development Agency

“SyncR: A Tool to Enhance Your Risk Quality & Insurance Strategy” | Sponsored by Prudent Insurance Brokers Ltd.

“RIMScast: Navigating the Risk Landscape in 2022” | Sponsored by AXA XL

“RIMScast: Prioritizing People: Expertise and Innovation” | Sponsored by Gallagher Bassett

“RIMScast: Risk Findings for the Industrial & Manufacturing Industry” | Sponsored by Aon

RIMS Publications, Content, and Links:

RIMS Membership — Whether you are a new member or need to transition, be a part of the global risk management community!

RIMS Virtual Workshops

On-Demand Webinars

Risk Management Magazine

Risk Management Monitor

RIMS Risk Leaders Series

RIMS-Certified Risk Management Professional (RIMS-CRMP)

RIMS-CRMP Stories — New interview featuring Broward County RIMS President Stacey Nielsen!

Spencer Educational Foundation

RIMS DEI Council

RIMS Path to the Boardroom

RIMS Events, Education, and Services:

RIMS Risk Maturity Model®

RIMS Events App Apple | Google Play


RIMS Buyers Guide

Dan Kugler Risk Manager on Campus Grant

Sponsor RIMScast: Contact or for more information.


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Follow up with Our Guests:


Guest: Michelle Drew

Manager, Corporate Insurance and BCM

CSA Group Mental Health Ambassador

President of ORIMS.


Mental Health First Aid


Tweetables (For Social Media Use):


“At CSA Group, we’ve got a Mental Health Ambassador Program … and I am one of the ambassadors. I have that as one of my tags in my signature. … I let the whole world know that I’m interested in this area and that I’m here to support and help.” — Michelle Drew


“It’s important to try and normalize talking about mental health and realizing that it’s not something that needs to be hidden. Let’s talk about it; let’s normalize it; let’s remove the stigma from it.” — Michelle Drew


“As soon as they put out a call for volunteers, I immediately knew that I wanted to be involved in this. So I signed up, I did the training, and I got involved in the program. I think it’s a great program to help support people through their day-to-day.” — Michelle Drew


“Those of us that suffer from many mental illnesses or challenges have a lot to offer. Sometimes we need an opportunity to be able to bring that to the table.” — Michelle Drew


“Risk managers have it in our DNA to help others.” — Michelle Drew