February 20, 2020
Mental Health and Safety at Work
One in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue or mental illness in any given year, so chances are that you or someone you work with is struggling with this silent epidemic.
Most of us spend more time at work than anywhere else, which makes addressing mental health at work very important.
Alarming Industry Stats
In the construction industry, the number two cause of death among men 19 – 54 is suicide, after cancer.* Mental health is important and should be prioritized as highly as other safety precautions like wearing a hard hat.
And as Sarah Lorek pointed out in an article published on constructibletrmible.com, a study found that the construction industry exhibits many common risk factors that are associated with feelings of helplessness:
- Competitive, high-pressure work environment
- Substance abuse
- End-of-season layoffs
- Separation from family
The cost of not addressing mental health
About 30 per cent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses. The total cost from mental health problems to the Canadian economy exceeds $50 billion annually and can look like absenteeism, presenteeism and high turnover.
What can you do?
There's no easy solution to addressing mental health issues at work, but there are many resources that you can use if you or someone you work with is struggling. The Mental Health Commission of Canada offers a workplace program called Mental Health First Aid Canada (link to https://www.mhfa.ca/en/workplace-programs). The program offers training to employers and employees to first recognize a change in behaviour at work, then respond with a conversation and finally guide someone to appropriate resources and support. The positive outcomes of this training include:
- Significantly greater recognition of mental health issues
- Decreased social distance from people with mental health illnesses
- Increased confidence in providing help to others
- Demonstrated increase in helpful actions
By implementing a training program or just providing awareness of resources available to your employees, any step you take is a positive one when it comes to possibly prevent suicide or improving mental health and safety on the job.
For more information, visit:
Mental Health Commission https://www.mentalhealthcommission.ca/English/what-we-do/workplace
Canadian Mental Health Association https://cmha.ca/
Mental Health First Aid https://www.mhfa.ca/en/workplace-programs
*Vancouver Regional Construction Associaton https://www.vrca.ca/blog/2019/08/26/bccsa-and-scott-construction-tackle-mental-health-stigma-in-the-construction-industry/