Shock figures over mental health in Canada

Labour force figures in province described as “one of the defining public health issues of our time”

How high would you expect the percentage of people in the labour force who have experienced a mental health issue to be? One in 10? 25 per cent? Amazingly, the figures for the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area (GTHA) are a striking one in two.

According to figures from CivicAction, 1.5 million among the area’s workforce have experienced a mental health issue and over the next decade that could lead to a $17 billion loss in productivity.
Speaking in a statement, Sevaun Palvetzian, the CEO of CivicAction, outlined that the numbers actually only represent a fraction of the impact when considering the economic opportunity of establishing a mentally-healthy and productive workforce.

“This is one of the defining public health issues of our time, one that is increasingly impacting our personal health and our economic potential as a region,” she said. “Our mental health touches every part of our lives, including our workplaces, so to change the culture at work will improve the overall quality of life in the GTHA.”

According to the CivicAction report, mental health issues are just one of the economic and social challenges facing people in the region – but one that people are reluctant to be open about.

“We’ve seen great movement on the mental health front, but the fear around disclosing is still a real threat, and this fear prevents people from getting help,” said Paula Allen, vice president of research and integrative solutions at Morneau Shepell. “With over 70 per cent of people in a recent national survey saying that workplace stigma is a concern, there’s more to be done.”