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The invisible issue

It’s easy to spot an employee or coworker with a broken leg, but noticing someone with a mental illness is usually a lot more difficult. That being said, just because you can’t see it, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.

According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year, equating to 500,000 employees unable to work every week due to mental health problems or illnesses. The good news however, is that mental illnesses are treatable and everyone can contribute to being a part of the solution.

Here are three important practices that can help to promote mental health in your workplace:

1. Promote work/life balance

When employees feel like they are unable to balance their work lives and their home lives, it can lead to an overwhelming amount of stress. While not all stress is unhealthy, excessive stress can manifest as depression, anger or anxiety which can lead to absenteeism, low productivity and poor morale.

Employees can:

  • Reach out to a manager or HR representative for help managing workload expectations
  • Take time away from work to relax and unwind
  • Take advantage of flexible working arrangements that employers may offer

Employers can:

  • Recognize and reward employee performance
  • Set realistic workload expectations and continuously review them
  • Support employees taking vacation time / having a full life outside of work

2. Create a healthy workplace environment

When it comes down to it, a healthy workplace environment is in everyone’s best interest.  Cultivating a workplace culture that makes people feel emotionally safe and supported will often lead to more engaged and highly productive employees.

You can start by:

  • Spreading awareness about mental illness
  • Fostering healthy and supportive relationships within the workplace
  • Utilizing free resources such as Bell Let’s Talk toolkit

3. Stand up to stigma

Stigma leads to shame and shame leads to people being afraid to get the help that they need. It’s a vicious cycle that needs to be stopped, which is why it’s so important to break the stigma surrounding mental health. Here are few ways you can do just that:

  • Speak openly about mental health
  • Educate yourself and others
  • Be mindful of your language
  • Be kind and show compassion towards those suffering from a mental health condition

Mental health begins with you!