One of the largest growing areas of disability costs to Canadian employers is mental health. For employees, untreated mental illness can be disruptive to their work and personal life. For businesses an unhealthy workforce can be the difference between a year in profit, or loss. Focusing mental health awareness in your workplace will assist your employees with identifying their own mental health concerns, and help to create a more productive, safe, and healthy work environment.
Raising awareness can assist individual employees to understand their own mental health and reduce stigma. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health estimates that one in five Canadians has an addiction or mental health problem. Most workplaces include employees with mental illness, disclosed to co-workers or not. However stigma continues to be an issue. In 2015, 64% of Ontario employees surveyed said they would be worried about working with a co-worker with mental illness.
Improved mental health awareness can contribute to a more positive work environment, and one that does not damage employees’ health. According to a survey by Statistics Canada, employees who work in stressful environments are more than three times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode than those who work in low stress. Thus, awareness can help employees and co-workers build a healthier workplace.
Businesses ought to undertake mental health awareness to minimize what can be long-term economic costs associated with unhealthy employees. Canada’s Mental Health Commission study states that the Canadian economy looses $50 billion each year in lost productivity due to persons living with mental illness. And, in 2001, business productivity losses from turnover and absenteeism due to mental illness stood at $6 billion.
Employee of all ages and professional skill levels can experience mental illness. Businesses can take the lead in raising their employees’ awareness of mental illness, and creating workplaces immune from stigma.