The story behind mental health issues (Editor’s Notes)

Former Globe and Mail reporter Jan Wong’s saga of depression contains valuable lessons for employers
By Todd Humber
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 06/05/2012

The unveiling of a national mental health strategy (see “Workplaces have ‘role to play’ in mental health”) should be applauded. Employers need more tools in their arsenal to deal with the well-being of the workforce.

The psychological health of workers is closely linked to morale, productivity, efficiency and the bottom line. And, contrary to what some think, Canada is not experiencing a sudden mental health epidemic. It has just become more acceptable to talk openly about it, and more people are seeking assistance rather than suffering alone in silence.

This must be viewed as nothing but a positive trend for employers. Are some people abusing the system, using mental health as an excuse to access disability benefits? Undoubtedly. But the numbers are likely in line with all other types of malingering — such as bad backs, bum knees and whiplash. The fact mental health problems are harder to see doesn’t make them any less real.