January 28, 2015 brought the annual Bell Let’s Talk Day, a campaign to raise awareness and funds to reduce the stigma around mental illness and to help promote awareness and understanding. This campaign has been at the forefront of promoting awareness about mental health, and with the majority of Canadian adults spending most of their waking hours at work, it is begs consideration of mental health in the workplace.
Here are some quick facts about mental illness and its impact on Canadian workers:
- Approximately 21.4 % of the working population in Canada currently experience mental health problems and illnesses (Mental Health Commission of Canada).
- On any given week, more than 500 000 Canadians will not go to work due to mental illness (Mental Health Commission of Canada)
- Mental health issues are the number one cause of both short-term and long-term disability leave in Canada (The Conference Board of Canada).
A strong link can be drawn between an unhealthy workplace, work-related stress and unhealthy lifestyles. If left unaddressed, mental health issues can have a significant impact on work outcomes. This can include increases in presenteeism and absenteeism, decreased productivity and a slew of other financial implications. The good news is that evidence suggests investing in effective programs can make a difference to improve mental health problems and illness, and can reduce the associated costs and burdens on people, businesses and the economy.
Occupational Therapists are optimally positioned to help employers develop and implement programs to address mental health at work. Stay tuned for another upcoming blog with more information about strategies for employers to help promote mental health in the workplace.