22 January 2017 by Lorel Hammerstad
Mental health problems or illness is one of the top three drivers leading to short or long term disability claims in Canada, according to the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental health issues in the workplace needs to be a top priority for all.
Learn to recognize signs of mental illness in a co-worker, friend or even yourself:
- Poor concentration and memory
- Low energy, ongoing insomnia
- Changes in appetite (over eating or no appetite)
- Excessive anger or irritability
- Withdrawal from social activities and loss of interest in things that were once enjoyed
- Poor functioning ability or difficulty performing tasks that are familiar
- Extreme anxiety that occurs for no reason or remains long after the event causing the anxiety has occurred
- Extreme mood swings
- In some extreme cases of mental illness, delusions, hallucinations or disorganized thought and speech
Give (or get) support.
- If it is your co-worker that is struggling, try to provide an environment that is supportive. Sometimes just being able to share that something is wrong is the first step toward healing.
- As a manager or supervisor, try to create a workplace environment that is supportive through educational sessions or lunch room posters addressing mental health. Foster a workplace that encourages empathy.
- If you suspect you are suffering from mental illness, do not be afraid to speak up and ask for help – whether it’s from a trusted co-worker or your manager/supervisor.
- Know where to get help
- Contact a primary care doctor
- Contact a local health department or organization that specializes in mental health
- Find a local support group
- Employee assistance programs
- Call a crisis line if experiencing severe symptoms most provinces and territories have a local support hotline.
What can employers do?
- The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends employers take the following steps:
- Train Managers and employees in Mental Health First Aid consider providing a link to this type of training.
- EWI Works can customize a lunch and learn session addressing mental health in the workplace. (contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
- Support Canadians with Mental Illness by adopting programs to help them enter or re-enter the workforce.
- Make mental health a priority!
Since 2010, The Bell Let’s Talk Campaign promotes awareness of mental health issues in the workplace. For more information on mental health programs visit #BellLetsTalk and/or the Mental Health Commission of Canada.