MHCC makes several proposals to help those with serious mental illness

Stigma, inflexible policies among reasons for unemployment
|hrreporter.com|Last Updated: 10/09/2013

Stigma, discrimination, inflexible disability income polices and inadequate support for people finding and keeping a job are some of the reasons Canadians living with serious mental illnesses are unemployed, according to a report from the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

The Aspiring Workforce Report — produced in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), the University of Toronto and Queen's University — provides several recommendations to help policy-makers, governments and employers strengthen workplace support for Canadians with serious mental illness. The “aspiring workforce” consists of people with a serious mental illness who have been unable to enter the workforce, have been in and out of the workforce or are attempting to return to work after being away for a lengthy period of time.

The recommendations include:

•ensuring supported employment programs that help people find and keep jobs are well-matched to interests and career goals

•the development of a formal network to advance the development, growth and legitimacy of social businesses for people with mental illnesses

•changes to disability support policies to provide flexibility that recognizes individuals with mental health issues often have intermittent work capacity

•increasing workplace know-how when it comes to people better understanding their human rights to improving the knowledge and understanding of the symptoms of their illness.

"Some employers are reluctant to hire people with mental illness, in many cases due to the stigma associated with it," said Louise Bradley, MHCC president and CEO. "With a job, these individuals would be healthier, have higher self-esteem, have a higher standard of living and contribute more to the economy."

The Aspiring Workforce Report aligns with the recommendations in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, the MHCC's blueprint to promote better mental health, prevent mental illness and ensure that services and supports are there for people who need them.

Specifically, Aspiring Workforce aligns with the strategy's recommendation to enhance supports for people living with mental health problems and illnesses to pursue education and work, make disability benefit programs more adaptable and remove financial disincentives that hinder a return to work or school.

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