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On-the-job stress a major cause of mental health concerns, survey of Canadian workers shows

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Toronto — More than three-fourths of Canadian workers have missed time because of mental health concerns, with on-the-job stress the leading cause, according to a white paper from the Mental Health Commission of Canada and consulting firm Morneau Shepell.

Published in July, the white paper examines the results of a survey conducted by Morneau Shepell and Toronto newspaper The Globe and Mail over a six-month period in 2017. Seventy-eight percent of the 1,575 respondents – who were directed to the survey through the newspaper’s coverage on mental health in the workplace – reported missing work for mental health reasons.

At 34 percent, workplace stress was the top cause of mental health issues, followed by trauma at 22 percent. Among the workers citing workplace stress as the primary cause of their mental health problem or issues, depression (37 percent) and anxiety (32 percent) were the leading issues.

Other findings:

  • 72 percent of respondents felt their mental health issues negatively affected their careers.
  • 55 percent said their employer did not know about their mental health issue.
  • 69 percent were between the ages of 20 and 50.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that 7.1 million Canadians experience mental health issues annually. Each week, 500,000 workers miss time because of mental health problems or illnesses.

“Mental health is not binary – in that people either have issues or not; it lies along a continuum and can change depending on the challenges we face,” Bill Howatt, Morneau Shepell chief research and development officer, workforce productivity, and lead author of the white paper, said in a July 5 press release. “It’s critical that employers consider the mental health of the entire workforce and develop a strategy that addresses all levels of mental health programming, including preventative measures to keep employees healthy, early intervention to navigate through challenges, and supportive policies to aid in effective transition back into the workplace.”

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