Whether in the media or from personal experience, everyone has had some form of contact with mental illness. In fact, one in five Canadians will experience mental illness in their lifetime. With such a high percentage of the population at risk, you would think that there would be significant measures in place to help Canadians suffering from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other mental illnesses. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Even if you do not suffer from mental illness, you can still be affected by it as a business owner. The mental health of Canadians has a significant impact on the economy. Every year, decreased productivity from employees with depression costs employers $47.6 billion dollars. Additionally, $7.9 billion is spent on care, disability, and accidental death.
With the wellbeing of Canadians and the economy at risk, what can we do to help?
End the Stigma
In recent years, Canadians have become more aware of the elephant in the room that is mental health awareness. For too long, Canadians have devalued the importance of seeking help for mental illness. Asking people to “try harder” or “get over it” were common phrases spoken to employees who admitted their struggles.
Thankfully, the future of awareness looks promising. Initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk have created awareness that did not exist even seven years ago. Since its conception in 2011, 729,065,654 interactions have been made, with over $86.5 million committed to assisting those with mental illness.
With all the work that has been done by projects like Bell Let’s Talk, there is still a stigma that exists surrounding mental illness. While conditions have improved, there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done to end the stigma in the workplace.
Starting a conversation is the best way to do your part to end the stigma. Once we address the elephant in the room, we can all work collectively to help others overcome their struggles with mental illness.
Provide Proper Benefits
Many small businesses don’t cover their employees for mental health, which could be negatively impacting their productivity. Without looking at the whole picture, businesses only see the upfront costs they must pay to cover their employees. If you’re a small business owner, investigate the different benefits option available.
If you’re a small to medium business owner looking for coverage for your employees, finding the right insurance provider that can cover your staff doesn’t have to be difficult. Look for a company that offers mental health coverage. Find a plan and rate that works best for you—every penny you put towards your employees’ mental wellbeing will be worth it in the long run.
Providing benefits to support and encourage employees’ mental wellbeing will not only help your employees, but it can also improve business. It’s a win-win situation for everyone involved.
Increase Healthcare Funding
Currently, mental health receives only seven percent of the annual government healthcare funding. Over the next decade, this number is expected to increase by two percent, accounting for nine percent of the overall healthcare funding. Realistically, this is not a significant amount when you consider just how serious mental illness truly is and how much it costs to support.
While Canada acts as a global leader for aspects of our healthcare system, mental health funding is certainly not one of them. Canada falls behind countries like New Zealand, Australia, and the United Kingdom, which all contribute between 10 and 14 percent of their annual healthcare funding to the issue.
It’s crucial now more than ever for Canada to increase its funding. A higher percentage of the annual budget will help provide better support channels and care for those suffering from mental illness.