– Kevin Connor, Sun Media
Employers need to do more to address the mental health of their employees because too many workers are too sick or stressed to do much more than put their heads down on their keyboards, a new study shows.
The Canadian Mental Health Association is urging employers across the country to accept greater responsibility for their staff.
“Employers must do more to promote a healthy work/ life balance, otherwise they, their workers, our economy and society will suffer serious consequences,” said Dr. Taylor Alexander, CEO of the CMHA.
The report says 83% of Canadians reported having shown up for work while sick or exhausted. On average past year.
An overwhelming 89% who took part in the study say they feel stress- related mental health problems have been increasing over the years.
“Stress, burnout and depression create huge fall out in the workplace that far exceeds taking a sick day here and there. They are part of a continuum that can lead to serious illness,” Alexander said.
“It is estimated that more than 2,000,000 employees in Canada suffer mental illness at any given time. The economic, social and personal impact of mentally unhealthy workplaces is staggering.”
The Conference Board of Canada says workers who reported a high degree of stress balancing work and family missed 7.2 days of work each year.
Workers suffering from clinical depression miss work an average of 40 days, which reduced productivity and generated higher disability and benefits costs.
“In addition businesses are facing projected shortages of skilled workers in the future and they will have to use their resources in the most effective way. Part of that is ensuring that their workforce is mentally healthy,” Alexander said.
Mentally unhealthy workplaces add to an already stressed health-care system. Depression is linked to heart disease, diabetes and autoimmune disorders.
“For all of these reasons, we’re calling on employers to do more- to make mental health their business,” he said.
“Employees must also take responsibility for their mental health by making sure they are taking care of their health and communicating with their employer and supervisors when they see potential problems.”
Courtesy: Toronto Sun, Friday, May 2, 2008