“We must all work together to create healthier workplaces and ensuring mental health issues are part of our focus is critical. We are pleased that today’s World Mental Health Day is shining a light on workplace mental health. ” — Larry Brown, NUPGE President
Ottawa (10 Oct. 2017) — 2017 marks the 25th World Mental Health Day observed every October 10. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 and the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) strongly supports a greater focus on mental health in the workplace. Workers have a right to a safe and secure workplace, one that ensures they are not harmed either physically or mentally by their work environment.
The statistics are disturbing with a reported 1 in 5 people in Canada afflicted by mental health issues every year. Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological and social well-being and lack of mental health impacts our physical well-being and ability to function effectively in our workplace. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 350 million people across the world are currently living with a mental illness.
The need to support mental health in workers is clear, but the benefits go beyond individual well-being. WHO states that “a negative working environment may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity. Workplaces that promote mental health and support people with mental disorders are more likely to reduce absenteeism, increase productivity and benefit from associated economic gains.” According to the WHO, "depression and anxiety disorders cost the global economy US$ 1 trillion each year in lost productivity."
Canada still does not have a comprehensive mental health strategy and resources are still not available, as mental health is a largely hidden health issue. Canada should adopt clear policies and a roadmap for moving forward can be found at the global policy level. WHO's Global Plan of Action on Worker’s Health (2008-2017) and Mental Health Action Plan (2013-2020) outline relevant principles, objectives and implementation strategies to promote good mental health in the workplace. These include: addressing the social determinants of mental health, such as living standards and working conditions; activities for prevention and promotion of health and mental health, including activities to reduce stigmatization and discrimination; and increasing access to evidence-based care through health service development, including access to occupational health services.
“Unions have a great record of protecting the physical safety of workers, we must ensure that governments, employers and labour all work together to also ensure our workplaces similarly support the mental health of our workers,” said Larry Brown, President of the National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE).
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 370,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. — NUPGE