Mental Health In The Workplace: What You Should Know


Did you know that one in five professionals will experience a mental health issue at some point during their careers?

Mental health issues include but are not limited to anxiety, depression, panic disorders, attention deficit disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorders, eating disorders or addiction disorders.

According to Karla Thorpe, the Associate Director of Compensation and Industrial Relations with the Conference Board Of Canada, it’s challenging for anyone to succeed while struggling with an ignored mental health issue.

“Mental health is a significant business issue that requires the attention of organizations,” she says. “People who experience mental health issues face incredible challenges in the workplace. Many are misunderstood, shunned and underutilized.”

Thorpe explains that organizations are currently working to implement programs to address mental illness and enhance the quality of workplace life for affected individuals. She also says that significant improvements have been made over the last few years, as a result of further research and more public awareness.

More specifically, the Mental Health Commission of Canada is actively working to increase the number of Canadians affected by mental illness who seek help. That means they’re working to break the stigmas associated with mental illness, and encouraging those affected to get help.

Here are just a few ways Canada is addressing mental health in the workplace:

National standards

The Mental Health Commission of Canada developed the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace to ensure that employers are creating a healthy environment for their employers in hopes of decreasing the amount of mental illness cases.

The National Standard works with workplaces of all kinds to give them the resources and solutions they need to implement workplace standards to create a healthy environment for everyone. This allows employers and employees to be aware of the rising issue of mental health in the workplace and have a strategy to do something positive about it.

Challenging the stigmatization of mental health issues

Recently the MHCC founded the largest systematic endeavor in Canadian history with the goal of eliminating the negative attitudes that often surround mental health issues, specifically in the workplace.

A large percentage of those who struggle with mental illness do not feel comfortable speaking with their employer about it or seeking treatment because they’re concerned about what people will think.

Eliminating these concerns will allow sufferers to feel comfortable discussing mental illness and start working toward recovery.

Creating awareness

The MHCC also works hard to increase awareness about basic mental health issues in the workplace. The ultimate goal is to build awareness to a point where mental illness is on par with a physical illness (i.e., cancer, injury).

The MHCC isn’t the only one with this goal in mind. There are numerous global associations that are working throughout the world to increase awareness – and it seems their initiatives are working!

Want to learn more about diversity in the workplace? Check out our Diversity Career Guide, part of Diversity Career Week in partnership with RBC!