June 17, 2015

Ottawa: To respond to the evermore pressing concern of mental health in the workplace, and pay tribute to National Public Service Week, HealthPartners today released its Chronic Disease and Mental Health Report. The report closely examines the enormous toll that mental illness takes on both workers and their employers, and the startling connection between physical disease and mental illness.

The report also underlines the resources and programs that HealthPartners’ 16 member charities provide to respond to this ever-growing issue: recognizing the mind-body connection and utilizing their mental health program expertise to assist employers, and employees in building more supportive workplaces.

The report highlights that people with a chronic illness like diabetes or cancer are more prone to mental illness than the general population. According to Statistics Canada, employees who have both a mental and a physical illness stay off work the longest. And research by the Mental Health Commission of Canada has found that by the age of 40, a worker has a 50 percent chance of having a mental illness. Staggering figures like these explain why the Conference Board of Canada dedicates an entire symposium to workplace wellness and mental health every year. Moreover, in her March 31, 2015 report, Clerk of the Privy Council and Secretary to Cabinet Janice Charette made mental health one of her “top three” priorities for the federal public service.

Mental illness in the workplace costs the Canadian economy $51 billion every year, with more than half a million Canadians absent every day from work because of depression. Employee mental illness costs companies — and the public service sector — lost productivity, decreased revenues, and increased expenses for temporary employees and disability claims.

“What is striking about the research in our report is how it underlines the relationship between the mind-body connection and clearly shows that what is happening in the body has an indelible impact on the mind,” says Eileen Dooley, HealthPartners CEO. “Of the 87 per cent of Canadians who will most likely be affected by a major disease or chronic illness in their lifetime, 25 to 50 per cent (between 7.7 and 15.4 million) will experience depression as a result. In the workplace, those consequences can be severe. Because the federal public service workplace is where so many people in the region are employed, National Public Service Week seemed the ideal time for the report’s release.”
“We know that employers are very concerned about their employees’ mental health and are looking for ways to help build psychologically supportive workplaces,” she adds. “HealthPartners’ 16 member charities have developed mental health programs and supports to assist employers, and employees, in achieving their goals.”

HealthPartners works as a catalyst to help its 16 national charity partners meet the mental health needs of Canadians living with chronic diseases by offering a channel for workplace donors nation-wide to easily support these needs. As the report shows, all the health charities HealthPartners represents recognize the mind–body connection between physical and mental illness, and the fact that mental illness in the workplace is one of the most urgent issues of our time. “That’s why every one of our member charities provides mental health support programs, along with programs and services to help people cope with the physical symptoms of their disease,” emphasizes Dooley.

Every day, the 16 member charities’ tailored support services and programs are enabling Canadians coping with both physical and mental illness to live the best life possible. The personal testimonials featured in the report are living proof that support for HealthPartners is support for the critical research and services its member charities provide. Collectively, these organizations’ research and services make an enormous difference in both the physical and mental health of people nationwide — in their sense of self, their interpersonal relationships and their contribution at home and in the workplace. View the report at healthpartners.ca/mentalhealth.


About HealthPartners

HealthPartners connects employees to Canada’s most trusted health charities. Collectively in the workplace, we help to build healthy workers, workplaces and communities; provide programs and services to the 87% of Canadians living with chronic disease and major illness; and find cures and treatments for these diseases through life saving research. For more information please visit www.healthpartners.ca.