Addressing the role of the workplace in mental-health issues, support

posted on December 1, 2020

November 27, 2020

By Kelsey Rolfe, Benefits Canada

Two-thirds of employees making short- or long-term disability claims cited their workplace or work-related issues as a cause, but despite this only one in three Canadian employers has a mental-health strategy in place.

“Businesses may have several piecemeal strategies but not an overall strategy and the result is that their efforts either amount to nothing or they’re negatively perceived,” said Charmaine Alexander, senior advisor of disability management at Desjardins Insurance, during Benefits Canada’s 2020 Mental Health Summit on Nov. 13.

This was common in the coronavirus lockdowns in the spring of 2020, she noted. According to a University of Sherbrooke study, 50 per cent of Canadians had already reported a decline in their mental health in the spring and 26 per cent were showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

However, a recent survey by Morneau Shepell Ltd. found 34 per cent of employees felt their employer’s mental-health supports were inconsistent or poor. And even when employers do offer mental-health supports, 60 per cent of employees don’t access them, either because they don’t know what’s available to them or the offering doesn’t include the professionals they want to access.

“If there’s one thing we need innovation to tackle, it’s helping that 60 per cent of people who are hesitant or in denial to get the help they need,” said Alexander.

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