Mental Health in the Workplace is Costing Canada $51 Billion a Year

Work can be a great fulfillment: it can put food on your table and it can pay for your vacation to the Bahamas. But nearly half of all working Canadians will tell you that working is the most stressful part of their lives.

A recent study conducted by Ipsos Reid on behalf of Partners for Mental Health recorded that half a million Canadians have missed work due to mental health issues. Not necessarily surprising when we see the pressures of deadlines and commitments. What is surprising, though, is the $51 billion it costs employers in Canada and the economy every year to cope with mental health issues at work.

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The survey found that 16% of Canadians say work is a constant cause for feelings of depression, anxiety or other mental health symptoms. Mental health problems are an illness, but unlike a common cold, it is often left untreated.

Due to fears of possible stigma, discrimination and lack of support, employees with mental illnesses tend to keep the issue private rather than seeking for help from employers and colleagues. The study shows that two in three Canadians will choose not to have an open discussion with their boss about their illness. The result is hurtful both for the worker’s health and the organization’s production.

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“The detrimental effects of unmanaged mental illness in the workplace—from the impact on the individual, to loss of productivity, and to increased disability claims—confirms the critical need for businesses and individuals to take action when it comes to mental health,” says Jeff Moat, President, Partners for Mental Health. “Even though 44% of workers say they have or have had mental health issues, people are still not talking openly about it in the workplace. This has to change for the sake of business and the long-term health of all employees.”

Partners for Mental Health is a national charitable organization aiming to change the way Canadians think about, act towards and support mental health and mental illness. In May the Not Myself Today campaign was launched to educate Canadians on mental health issues and encourage businesses and employers to invest more in developing a healthy workplace.