Report paints stark picture of workplace mental illness
Published Monday, June 20, 2011 8:50AM EDT
A new report suggests that nearly half of Canadian workers and managers will admit to having dealt with a mental-heath issue at one time or another, though many are reluctant to reveal their struggles to their employer.
The Conference Board of Canada recently undertook a national survey of more than 1,000 employees, nearly half of whom were managers.
Twelve per cent of the survey respondents said they were currently dealing with a mental-health issue, with another 32 per cent they had faced one in the past.
But some of the people who had struggled with mental-health issues reported feeling "isolated, ignored or shunned by colleagues" when they returned to the workplace.
Concerns about the stigma surrounding mental-health issues, in fact, leave many people uncomfortable with bringing the issue up with their co-workers, employers and unions.
Fifty-four per cent of respondents thought that disclosing a mental health issue would limit their chances for promotion, while 38 per cent believed doing so would limit their future success within their organization.
As a result, the Conference Board says it is necessary to change attitudes because "when it comes to mental health, misinformation, fear and prejudice remains far too prevalent."
Survey interviews also revealed "a significant disconnect" between the perceptions of the two groups in how well they believe their workplaces deal with mental illness.
Eighty-two per cent of the executives surveyed believed their companies promote mentally healthy work environments, while only 30 per cent of employees agreed with the same statement.
Almost half of the managers surveyed (44 per cent) admitted they have not had any training in managing workers with mental-health issues, despite the fact that a majority of disability claims are related to them.
According to the Conference Board, some "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" in 2009-2010.
Only 26 per cent of workers surveyed believed that their supervisor "effectively manages mental health issues."
The Conference Board study was sponsored by Bell Canada, Manulife Financial, Morneau Shepell, Canada Post Corporation and TD Bank Group.
With files from The Canadian Press