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EDITORIAL: Mental Health Matters

By Angela Splinter,

Trucking HR Canada

In any given week, 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to a mental health issue. Depression, anxiety, PTSD, and other mental health conditions are increasingly responsible for disability claims and account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity due to absenteeism and “presenteeism.” In trucking, a worker who is on the job but not mentally present also poses a safety risk.

We spend more hours at work than anywhere else, so it makes sense to say that our work environment has a significant effect on our overall mental well-being.

At Trucking HR Canada, we have established a mental health initiative to help trucking and logistics employers find the resources, tools, and programs they need to develop a better understanding of how to develop a workplace culture that values mental health.

On October 30, we will be hosting our first symposium on workplace mental health in Toronto. This half-day event will open with David Henry sharing his story as a driver who succeeded in overcoming various mental health challenges, and feature a panel discussion of subject matter experts who can provide employers with practical approaches they can bring back to their workplace.

As we prepare for this event, here are some things we have already learned:

The stigma of mental health is real

For people living with mental health issues, the stigma they experience from friends, family, co-workers, and sometimes even the support system that they turn to for help is more devastating than the illness itself. We can do more to help. We need to identify how mental health can best be incorporated into overall workplace health, safety, and HR approaches.

Prevention matters

A workplace culture that supports work-life balance, fosters effective communication, and has systems in place to support employees can prevent the development of conditions that affect a person’s ability to relate to others and function each day. Making sure that employees are not chronically overworked, having policies that effectively address bullying or harassment, and ensuring that staff are equipped and trained to identify mental health issues early are important considerations. Do you have strategies and policies that are proactive about the mental health of your employees? Early engagement is crucial to a better outcome.

The approach needs to be comprehensive

Are you dealing with mental health issues on a case-by-case basis or do you have awareness programs, anti-stigma initiatives, and prevention initiatives that are part of an overall workplace initiative? How effectively does your employee assistance program support employees during their illness and re-entry into the workplace? As we look for ways to reduce the stigma surrounding mental health in our society and workplace, it’s important ensure that employees feel comfortable coming forward with their mental health problems and illnesses at work. And, workplaces that implement comprehensive approaches will be in a better position overall.

You can learn more about our “Gearing Up for Workplace Mental Health” symposium at truckinghr.com. Hope to see you October 30th as the learning continues.

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