Mental illness – reducing the toll

Bell’s workplace program a model for boosting awareness, taking action
By Mary Deacon
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/13/2011

The numbers are startling — mental illness is one of the leading causes of disability in the country, resulting in millions of Canadians being absent from work every day. Total cost to the economy? A staggering $51 billion each year, according to a 2003 study released by the Public Health Agency of Canada.

But big picture statistics like these only tell part of the story. Looking closer at how organizations address mental health issues, it becomes clear many are unprepared or not as well-equipped as they should be.

Nearly one-half of managers have no training on how to manage employees with mental health issues, according to a recent Conference Board of Canada survey. And while the vast majority of senior executives believe their workplaces promote mentally healthy work environments, less than one-third of employees agree.