Wanted: Better mental health support

Many Canadian workers willing to jump ship for improved benefits such as EAPs, time off

Wanted: Better mental health support

World Mental Health Day is just a few days away, and while employers have been working hard in this area, some workers are still looking for better mental health supports.

Nearly two-thirds (63 per cent) of Canadian professionals feel their company offers adequate resources to meet their needs, reports Robert Half.

Expanded mental health benefits such as employee assistance programs and access to free therapy (68 per cent) and paid time off for mental health (33 per cent) are among the major reasons for the satisfaction.

Read more: What are the top 4 mental health supports desired by workers?

Still, 30 per cent would consider switching employers for better mental health support and resources, finds the survey of over 500 professionals.

Among those who don’t feel adequately supported, 66 per cent wish their company would provide paid time off for mental health and 57 per cent would like to be offered expanded mental health benefits, such as employee assistance programs (EAPs) and access to free therapy.

Many people struggling

Mental health supports are as important as ever, with many struggling in this regard. In Ontario, for example, 31 per cent of adults are affected by mental health issues, reports the Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences.

Read more: 'Are you OK?’ Best practices for checking in with workers

This equates to 3.5 million adults in the province. Among them, 75 per cent claim to be suffering from anxiety related disorders, finds the survey of 1,001 Canadians, including 371 Ontarians, conducted between Sept. 13 and 15, 2022

And amid the troubles, 41 per cent of Ontarians think it would be difficult to access mental health services in their local community. This “illustrates that more work needs to be done,” according to Karim Mamdani, president and CEO of Ontario Shores.

"This figure serves as a timely reminder that the demand for mental health services is rapidly increasing. Ontario Shores, like many other mental healthcare providers, has seen an increase in service demand," says Mamdani. "We believe that this is only the beginning, and that even more pressure to support the mental health of the communities we serve is just around the corner."

WHO advice for mental health

World Mental Health Day is marked annually on Oct. 10. Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) called on employers to protect and promote mental health at work by providing:

  • manager training for mental health, which helps managers recognize and respond to supervisees experiencing emotional distress; builds interpersonal skills like open communication and active listening; and fosters better understanding of how job stressors affect mental health and can be managed
  • training for workers in mental health literacy and awareness, to improve knowledge of mental health and reduce stigma
  • interventions for individuals to build skills to manage stress and reduce mental health symptoms, including psychosocial interventions and opportunities for leisure-based physical activity.

Read more: Mental health strategies built for success

WHO also asked employers to support people with mental health conditions to participate in and thrive at work by providing:

  • reasonable accommodations at work that adapt working environments to the capacities, needs and preferences of a worker with a mental health condition
  • return-to-work programs that combine work-directed care (such as reasonable accommodations or phased re-entry to work) with ongoing clinical care to support workers
  • employment initiatives that help people with severe mental health conditions to get into paid work and maintain their time on work.

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