Toronto – October 8, 2014 – World Mental Health Day is annually observed by more than 100 countries every October 10, and was first observed by the World Federation for Mental Health in 1992. Currently, the World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In Canada, each day 500,000 citizens miss work due to a mental illness, and it is estimated that one in five Canadians will experience some form of mental illness in their lives.
Representing over 250,000 members nationally and nearly 1.3 million members internationally, UFCW leads the fight for workers’ health and safety in the workplace by way of strong representation and member-driven collective bargaining agreements. We recognize that no individual is immune to the risk factors that can lead to mental health issues. Therefore, no workplace can afford to dismiss the need for creating safe and welcoming work environments.
Health and safety measures must address the physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing of all employees in the workplace. And in an era where technology is the primary source of communication among individuals, inclusiveness in the workplace, attentive listening, and talking to co-workers is essential. We must also break down the stigmas facing people who suffer from mental health issues, including negative perceptions among managers and co-workers. Statistics show that 2 out of 3 people suffer a mental illness in silence due to fear of rejection from others. UFCW Canada believes that negatively labelling someone because of a mental health issue is a form of prejudice, and should never be condoned.
To create truly inclusive workplaces, we must increase our collective awareness of mental illness and advocate for employer-funded strategies to ensure that no worker has to feel alone or rejected at work. And it is important to acknowledge those who provide daily support and consultation services to Canadians suffering from mental illness.
This October 10, I encourage you to talk to your co-workers about mental health as a means of increasing awareness of mental illness, and to work toward creating a healthier work environment that is inclusive of everyone.
Paul R. Meinema