Mental health issues and going back to work

By Angelina Chiu
|Canadian HR Reporter|Last Updated: 09/04/2003

Scenario One: Bob returns to work after a lengthy absence because of a heart attack. His co-workers were solicitous — offering their help. They asked Bob about the old ticker. His boss told him to take things easy. Bob felt good about the warm welcome he received. The company also implemented a program promoting Heart Health.

Scenario Two: Willie returns to work after an episode of severe depression. Nothing was said about his absence. His co-workers seemed to tip toe around him and because of this Willie felt isolated.

“Mental, neurological and behavioural disorders will, according to projections, outrank road traffic accidents, AIDS and violence by 2020 as a primary cause of work years lost due to disability and early death,” states Unheralded Global Business Crisis: Worldwide Mental Health Problems Burning Wildfire in Global Economy, a recent report from the Business and Economic Roundtable on Mental Health. The stigma attached to mental illness is one of the biggest barriers in addressing mental health problems in the workplace. Lack of education and awareness among employers perpetuate the stigma.