Workplace stress a leading cause of mental-health issues: survey

More than a third (34 per cent) of Canadians cite workplace stress as the primary cause of their mental-health issue, according to a new white paper by Morneau Shepell Ltd. and the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

The survey, which polled 1,575 people, found depression and anxiety were the top two mental-health issues, making up 69 per cent of all problems reported.

Read: Personal finances affecting workplace stress, survey finds

Three-quarters (72 per cent) of respondents said their mental-health problem has already affected or would have an impact on their careers in a negative way. Further, 70 per cent said mental health affected their experience in the workplace, while 68 per cent reported being able to perform their best for less than 70 per cent of the workday.

Mental-health problems also led to absenteeism, according to the survey, with 78 per cent of respondents noting they missed work due to mental-health reasons. Of that group, 34 per cent said they missed two or more months of work.

In terms of support for mental-health issues, 66 per cent of respondents said their employers don’t have any program or policy in place to reduce stigma. As well, 75 per cent said they’re not aware of an overall workplace mental-health strategy at their job, while 90 per cent said there are no policies like effective disability management or safe return-to-work programs to address attendance.

Read: 49% of Canadians suffer from mental illness at some point: survey

“Mental health is not binary, in that people either have issues or not; it lies along a continuum and can change depending on the challenges we face,” said Dr. Bill Howatt, chief research and development officer of workforce productivity at Morneau Shepell, in a press release.

“It’s critical that employers consider the mental health of the entire workforce and develop a strategy that addresses all levels of mental-health programming, including preventative measures to keep employees healthy, early intervention to navigate through challenges and supportive policies to aid in effective transition back into the workplace.”