Workplaces key in mental health

AFL urges workplace focus in government’s mental health care review

Edmonton – Alberta’s workplaces have a key role in improving mental health care in the province.

In a submission to the provincial government’s Mental Health Review Panel, the Alberta Federation of Labour identified key ways in which workplaces are vital in improving mental health care outcomes for Albertans.

“Most of us spend a lot of our waking hours with our co-workers – but because of the stigma around mental health, many people in workplaces don’t ask for help when they could, and don’t ask for help when they need it,” Alberta Federation of Labour secretary treasurer Siobhán Vipond said. “Everyone has a role to play in building support for workers experiencing mental health issues – employers, unions, individuals and government. We need to build awareness and understanding of mental health in the workplace, and reduce barriers to treatment. It’s the right thing to do on a moral and ethical level, but it’s also the right thing to do from the perspective of businesses and the economy.”

In Alberta, the effects of mental illness costs the economy about $14.4 billion dollars annually through lost time, through lost productivity, through higher employee turnover, and through heightened organizational risk.

“Mental health affects the work lives of many Albertans,” Vipond said. “About one in five Albertans is likely to experience mental health issues in their lifetimes. This can have an impact on productivity and on work relationships, and it can lead to job losses.” 

Through a submission to the province’s Mental Health Review panel, the Alberta Federation of Labour urged the government to implement guidelines and standards to guarantee basic rights and protections for workers at risk of mental health issues, and to implement measures to ensure workplace supports that can help avoid or mitigate mental health issues.

“In many cases, earlier access to supports or treatments can have an enormous effect,” Vipond said. “And reducing the stigma around mental health reduces the barriers to treatment. This is particularly important for first responders and other front-line workers.”    

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BACKGROUNDER

 

MEDIA CONTACT:

Olav Rokne, Communications Director, Alberta Federation of Labour at 780.218.4351 (cell)
or via e-mail orokne@afl.org

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