Today is Bell Let’s Talk Day across Canada. It’s a wonderful and much-needed initiative that has already significantly increased the collective conversation about mental illness since its inception in 2011.

Bell Let’s Talk has been wildly successful in its first five years and here are the numbers to back it up:

  • There have been 597,360,644 total interactions since the initiative kicked off in 2011
  • These interactions have resulted in an additional $6 million in Community Funding Grants across Canada

Check out their website when you have a few minutes to spare and you can read more about the extraordinary success of the annual event.

Mental Illness in the Workplace

Blog Image 4Whether or not you realize it, someone you know or work with is likely suffering from a mental illness. Let’s Talk states that one in five Canadians will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lifetime.  While the conversation is increasing and, in-turn, the stigma decreasing, there are still so many people out there who are suffering in silence. This is why we thought we would focus today’s blog on mental illness in the workplace and how communication can help bridge the gap.

 

“In a 2012 workplace survey of over 6,600 Canadian employees, 14% reported being currently diagnosed with clinical depression and 8% more believed they had depression, but had not been diagnosed. A further 16% reported that they had experienced depression in the past” [source: workplacestrategiesformentalhealth.com]

We’re no experts on the topic of mental health and would never claim to be. However, with the aid of research, we thought we would share some ways experts say employers and employees can best deal with mental illness in the workplace.


The Power of Internal Communications

Blog Image 1Not everyone is ready to talk about their situation. We totally get that. But, if you feel as though your mental health is making it difficult to focus at work or properly do your job, you should consider telling someone. This could be your boss, HR rep or a colleague you feel comfortable with. If you’re worried about how your employer will view you afterwards, consider this: 85% of respondents to a 2012 poll conducted by Ipsos Reid agreed that employees with mental health conditions can be just as productive as other employees if they have access to the right support. That number, which has hopefully increased in the last five years since the survey, is not insignificant.

On the flip side, it’s up to employers to provide that support. There are various ways this can be achieved; whether it be providing counseling, accommodating schedules or work-from-home options, it’s the duty of employers to support its employees. According to the Office of Disability Employment 2013, “The costs for providing reasonable mental health-related accommodations are often fairly low, with most costs well under $500 per person per year.”

We mentioned a few different ways employers can help ensure their employees are engaged in recent our blog post,  the positives of employee engagement. One of the tips was to be flexible; this is especially important with those who are suffering from a mental illness. According to Statistics Canada, “employees who considered most of their days to be quite a bit or extremely stressful were 3 times more likely to suffer a major depressive episode, compared with those who reported low levels of general stress.”

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As the Canadian Mental Health Association states, this doesn’t mean avoiding stress will prevent mental illness but it will make recovery from mental illness much more difficult. They also make another great point which is that work can be a very positive experience for people recovering from a mental illness if the employer is on-board for the recovery process.

Now, where does internal communications come into play? Essentially, make sure your employees know that there is help out there for them. Here are a few ways this can be achieved:

  • Internal newsletters – including articles about mental health in the company newsletter helps to de-stigmatize the issue.
  • Seminars – bring in a mental health expert to speak to employees in a group setting. This is an excellent way to provide information, facts & figures and also let employees know there are options for them to seek help.
  • Signage – post informational posters and pamphlets around the office

Interested in learning more about how Take Roots can help improve internal communications? Contact us to schedule a 30 minute complimentary consultation.