Are our workplaces killing us?

The consequences of poor mental health are by no means minor. In fact, mental illnesses have a way of affecting every area of our lives, from our performance at work to our relationships at home. And it gets far more serious than that. The number of deaths in Canada that are due to mental illness is rapidly increasing, and suicide is currently one of the leading causes of death in our country.

So what does this mean for us? Mental health is everyone’s problem. It is a family issue, a relationship issue, and a workplace issue. Whether you struggle with a mental illness yourself or you know someone who struggles, at some point in your life you will be affected by mental illness in some way. And there’s no shame in that. Mental illness is an incredibly common condition that affects approximately one in three Canadians.

We cannot avoid it. We cannot run from it, we must confront it.

While we would love to see workplaces rising up and being a leader in the mental health support space, more and more, we are seeing the exact opposite. In fact, research shows that workplaces are only making matters worse. A recent study revealed that more than a third of Canadians cite workplace stress as the primary cause of their mental health issues. This has to be addressed.

While some degree of stress at work is almost inevitable and hardly ever brought on intentionally, it is crucial that employers begin to address this issue before it’s too late. We cannot continue to allow our workplaces to slowly breakdown individuals. We cannot allow them to continue to aggravate mental illnesses.

Mental health support initiatives should not be a workplace perk, they should be a mandatory practice. We want to see employers working to rid their workplace of toxic stigmas and fight mental illness through support programs, policies, and dialogue. Mental health can also be promoted through benefits packages (ie. self care days, wellness days, etc) and educational campaigns (ie. company-wide mental health awareness day).

For many people, their workplace is directly associated with stress, exhaustion and anxiety. Employers need to step up and turn this reality around. Workplaces should be a place where potential is realized, growth is encouraged and people are empowered and supported. That is the future we’re fighting for.


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