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Mental Health in the Workplace

Last week I had the opportunity to attend this ½ day forum presented by the Vancouver Board of Trade on mental health and how it is a significant issue shared by businesses in all industries.


Mental illness cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion in 2009-2010. Statistically, one-fifth of employees will suffer from a mental illness in their lifetime, yet close to half of all managers receive no training on how to manage employees with a mental illness.


There were several remarkable speakers as well as a panel discussion on the challenges that are associated with addressing mental illness in the workplace.  This included how mental illness impacts the bottom line, how to create a work culture conducive to good mental health, and what resources are available to employers to help improve workplace mental health.


What was most inspiring to me was the fact that mental health in the workplace has been identified as key priority by the Vancouver Board of Trade.  This coupled with Bell Canada’s $50 million commitment to mental health initiatives over the next five years, clearly demonstrates a change in perception and hopefully a reduction of the stigma associated with mental illness.


It was also fascinating listening to several remarkable speakers many of whom have faced mental health issue.   Most notably, Clara Hughes, six-time Canadian Olympic medalist, Canada’s flag bearer at the 2010 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremonies and sufferer of persistent depression.  Clara spoke openly about her battle with depression and how she has worked to overcome this illness.


Coast Mental Health Weekly Update

November 21, 2011

Britt Andersen

Chief Executive Officer

Coast Mental Health Foundation