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July 10, 2021

Healthy minds at work

There is a high cost to mental health issues.

Not only for those who suffer personally, but in the workplace with lost productivity due to mental illness.

Allan Ebedes, President and CEO at Excellence Canada, says, "A safe and healthy workplace is the product of committed leadership and strategic planning.

"In every organization, people are our most valuable resource and it is the joint responsibility of employers and employees to foster healthy minds and to safeguard them."

In 2011, 21.4 per cent of the working-age population aged 20 to 64 was living with a mental health problem or illness.

In Canada, mental illness is the second leading cause of disability and premature death.

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), at least 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental illness on any given week at an estimated $51 billion cost in terms of health care and lost productivity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that depression will be the single largest medical burden on health by 2020.

There are many movies and shows chronicling the struggles of mental illness including Girl, Interrupted; One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest; and United States of Tara, featuring a woman balancing life with dissociative identity disorder (DID).

Stigma and discrimination can add to the suffering associated with mental illness at home, in the community and in the workplace.

Even Margaret Trudeau, wife of former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliott Trudeau, suffered from bipolar disorder and advocated to reduce the stigma associated with mental illness.

Since then, other celebrities have come forward with their struggles to bring awareness to the problem and to let people know they are not alone in their plight.

Years ago I was fortunate to hear Stephen Lewis, former leader of the Ontario New Democratic Party, speak at an engagement at a local psychiatric hospital about the revolving door syndrome for people living with mental illness.

There are many stigmas attached to mental illness and promoting awareness in the community and in the workplace is an important step to eradicating those stigmas. 

According to statistics, just 50 per cent of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they or a family member are suffering from a mental illness. 

In comparison, 72 per cent would discuss diagnoses of cancer and 68 per cent would talk about diabetes in their family.

Only 49 per cent say they would socialize with a friend who had a serious mental illness and 27 per cent say they are fearful of being around people who suffer from serious mental illness.

Believe it or not, only one-third of the people who need mental health services actually receive them.

The theme for Canada's Healthy Workplace Month is Health Minds at Work...the mental health connection.

By Donna Donaldson, MSN Money

Do you think it is important for employers to understand and implement strategies relating to mental health issues in the workplace? Are employers doing enough?




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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...