Blog Post

Mental Health Is A Real Safety Concern

Mental health claims are the fastest growing category of disabilities among Canadians, but there still remains a stigma towards those who have mental health issues. Here’s a fact: Currently, 21% of the working population in Canada currently experiences mental health problems and / or illnesses. Of that 21%, only 23% of Canadians feel comfortable talking to their employer about their mental illness for fear of facing discrimination, dismissal, or ridicule from their employers or their peers. On average, mental health ends up costing Canadians about $50 billion a year in health care, lost time, or work disruptions while 30% of all health claims are a result of mental illness.

What do we mean when we refer to mental illness or disorders? There are over 200 classified forms of mental illness, but the five major categories are: anxiety disorders, mood disorders, schizophrenia/psychotic disorders, dementia, and eating disorders.

What are the effects of workplace illnesses on an individual? They can lead to a variety of effects that include: Heath problems, Back Pain, Cancers, Injuries, Infections, Aggression and Conflict, Substance Abuse, Reduced Adaptability, Impared Learning / Memory, and more.

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: psychosomatic disorders are physical conditions that are the result of a mental factor like conflict, stress, or anxiety.

What are the effects on the workplace in general? Untreated mental illness can result in higher premiums, health / benefits costs, recruitment costs, absenteeism (missed work), or presenteeism (going to work when you should be staying home).

So what can a workplace do to help? A positive and supportive work environment can reduce the impact, severity, time of onset, duration, and strength of a mental illness by optimizing its work flow and processes to reduce stress, increase worker control over, improve the communication between all team members, recognize contributions when they’re made, clearly defined tasks and roles of team members, promoting physical activity and work/life balance, make mental well-being a vital part of the structure of your organization, and have processes in place to come to conflict resolutions.

How can individuals improve their mental health on a personal level?

How would you react to news about a co-worker’s mental health? Hopefully you’ve moved over into the positive camp!