• Tammy Amstutz

Mental Health - Both In & Out of the Workplace

I was so fortunate to be present at the Calgary Chamber event yesterday raising awareness for National Depression Screening Day (#NDSD). Throughout the presentation from Dr. David Goldboom, it became quickly apparent that the need for a realistic & honest conversation about mental illness is long overdue. Mental illness, depression, and mental disease have started to emerge as a prevalent topic in recent years, and we are seeing these initiatives set themselves as a cornerstone in health & safety policies, employee policies, and wellness policies.

Mental illness is a silent threat. To our friends, family, colleagues,team members & economy. 1 out of 5 Canadians will develop a mental illness each year. This isn’t a “I know 10 people and 2 of them have depressions, so I guess I’m good” scenario. This is an annual statistic. Each year 1 in 5 people will develop a mental illness. Mental health has no compassion for those affected by a life crisis, and no prejudice against even the most successful, happy and engaged. And mental health has been given a stigma – preventing both diagnosis and care from those who need it most.

The old adage “culture eats strategy for breakfast” could not be more applicable. The culture we have around mental illness discussions at the workplace is what creates a robust and engaging experience for any employee or team member. Consistently staying in touch with the team member behind the title.

It is an employer’s responsibility to ensure the pillars for a rewarding and engaging career are present. In the coming years (and currently!) mental health support and training are going to be an essential pillar (and soon a legislative requirement). 130,000 Canadians have already been trained in mental health first aid. Learning how to respond when someone may be in crisis. Engaging, supporting and helping.

Major corporations have made some huge movements towards these open and honest policies that stretch far past their employees. @Bell_LetsTalk (#BellLetsTalk) is a Canadian-wide initiative, seeing Bell commit over $100 million to mental health in Canada (an area Canadian health care is lacking, seeing only 6-7% of our health dollars being spent on mental health).

Starbucks has created an initiative for their baristas, allocating $5,000 per year towards seeing a psychologist, counsellor, social worker, etc., because the ROI is huge, and the impact it has on their employees is even larger.

And these are only 2 of the movements we’re seeing.

Today is #NationalDepressionScreeningDay (#NDSD). Today is a day to talk about the stigma behind mental illness. Today is a day to talk about mental illness altogether. Today is a day to open the door to conversations about our mental health. And tomorrow is the day we keep that door open, and the day after, and the day after, until we can have real conversations about a real disease that affects so many people.

Don't ignore the signs and symptoms. For both yourself and those around you. And head over to Test4Depression.com to take their anonymous and free depression test.

Then don't be afraid to reach out. There are so many resources available. Employee Assistance Programs, Distress Centre Calgary (with a 24-hour hotline), Calgary Counselling Centre (with a sliding pay scale and a 1-day wait to see someone). Calgary has so many resources to set you on the road to recovery today.

© 2019 by BRITT Land & Engagement

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