Safety & Risk Management
Being proactive with worker mental health improves the bottom line
April 19, 2023 By Don Horne
Mental health concerns like anxiety, depression, and suicide were issues before the pandemic, but added stressors like isolation, grief, financial insecurity, and job instability pushed more workers to their breaking point.
Mental health issues across a workforce come with significant impacts including increased absenteeism, healthcare expenses, and turnover. Further, 31 per cent of employers said the strain on employee mental health has a severe financial impact on their company.
“Canada’s health workers are the backbone of our health care system, yet they continue to experience unprecedented challenges. Over the last two and a half years, Canada’s health workers, including those working in public health, have been challenged like never before,” said Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Carolyn Bennett, Minister of Mental Health and Addictions and Associate Minister of Health, after attending a recent meeting of the Coalition for Action for Health Workers. “This has led to unprecedented levels of burnout, absences, and turnover, as well as higher rates of depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, and other mental health challenges. These workforce challenges are in turn affecting patients who are experiencing long wait times for surgeries, emergency room closures, and difficulty accessing family health services.”
In February, Ottawa announced an investment of $198.6 billion over 10 years – including $46.2 billion in new funding for provinces and territories – to improve health care services for Canadians.
It is proven that support works for those who are suffering: For every one dollar invested in employee mental health, employers see a four dollar Return on Investment.
“We have seen a significant increase in employers seeking resources for employee stress, anxiety, and depression this year,” said Rich Jones, Chief Clinical Officer of Youturn Health. “Employers understand that providing support to their employees and their families is now critical to create a healthy, resilient workforce.”
Creating a healthy workforce starts with training, education, and resources on topics like stress management, mental health, and how to support employees in need.
See related article, “Workers, companies urged to take the pledge for Construction Safety Week”
Youturn Health, for example, is a virtual solution that bridges the gap between inaction and seeking treatment for individuals and their family members struggling with stress management, substance use, or mental health before they reach a crisis point. The program includes a virtual library of over 400 educational videos that help people understand the nature of mental health and substance use challenges, peer support from certified coaches who use lived experience and evidence-based strategies to help people develop new behaviours, and dedicated support for family and loved ones.
“Building a resilient workforce is crucial for employees to be able to handle the daily challenges and stressors that come with their jobs,” says Jones. “They’re better equipped to handle unexpected challenges, more productive, and happier people.”
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