Mental illness faced by 45% of Canadian workers. Long term disability issue.

June 20, 2011, Kitchener, Ontario

Posted by: Robert Deutschmann, Personal Injury Lawyer

A recent Canadian Press reporting on a Conference Board of Canada story notes that as many as 45% of Canadian workers and managers suffer some form of mental illness in the workplace.  This is a significant problem that often carries with it a significant stigma in the workplace. This skepticism comes not only from management and the long term disability insurers, but from co-workers as well.  Mental illness is one of the most difficult cases to deal with in a long term disability insuerer. If you are in a dispute with your long term disability insurer, or your long term disability benefits denied, you should contact one of our long term disability insurance lawyers immediately.



Mental illness faced by 45% of Canadian workers, managers
The Canadian Press
Mental illness in the workplace is a huge issue hiding in plain sight, says a new report by the Conference Board of Canada released Monday.
The report, Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces, is based on national survey of more than 1,000 employees — including almost 500 front-line managers, with followup interviews for some. The findings support a new initiative by the Mental Health Commission of Canada to establish national standards for psychologically healthy workplaces.
"When it comes to mental health, misinformation, fear and prejudice remain far too prevalent," says the Conference Board report. "It is time for a change."
The report says that in 2009-10, "78 per cent of short-term disability claims and 67 per cent of long-term disability claims in Canada were related to mental-health issues."
The personal and financial cost is staggering.
The Conference Board found that 12 per cent of its survey respondents were currently experiencing a mental-health issue and another 32 per cent said they'd faced one in the past.
The report found "a significant disconnect" between the perceptions of executives and employees about how well their workplaces deal with mental illness. Four-fifths of executives felt their companies promote mentally healthy work environments, yet just 30 per cent of employees felt the same way.
Almost half of all managers — 44 per cent — had no training in managing workers with mental-health issues.
The report states that despite the challenges, "most solutions are relatively inexpensive to implement, but require flexibility and creativity on the part of employers."
Problem rarely discussed by management
The Conference Board report suggests changing corporate culture is one of the more difficult challenges in this regard.
"Like any successful venture within an organization, the full support and involvement of senior leaders is required for change to occur.… It is still relatively uncommon in organizations for senior management to openly discuss the importance of mental health."
But the report doesn't spare co-workers or unions.
The survey found some employees returning from a mental illness "felt isolated, ignored or shunned by colleagues," a reception that increased feelings of shame and embarrassment.
The survey also found that "somewhat surprisingly, employees are no more comfortable disclosing a mental-health issue to a union representative or shop steward than they are to their supervisor."
Louise Bradley, the president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, said publicly airing workplace mental-health issues is the place to start ending the stigma.

Bradley compares it to the early years of AIDS "and even around breast cancer, for Pete's sakes, people didn't talk about."

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