Mental Health First Aid
Most of us know someone who wrestles with mental illness, but we may not be
aware of it. One in every five Canadians will experience some problem with their
mental health in the course of a year, and one in three will experience mental
health problems in their lifetime. This means that it’s very likely you work with
someone who may be experiencing the challenge of living with mental illness.
Recently, I had the privilege of participating in the Mental Health First Aid program
established by the Canadian Mental Health Commission. This innovative program
asks participants to think critically about their own understanding of mental
health and illness, while providing the tools necessary to offer emergency assistance
to those in need and promote good mental health.
The effects of poor mental health are very real, and have a dramatic impact on
the workplace. A 2007 study by Desjardins Insurance indicated that 23 percent
of workers experienced physical health problems caused by stress, anxiety, or
major depression, and approximately 20 percent of workers experienced fatigue,
sleeping problems, headaches, and anxiety between 2005-2007. Many of these
people leave the workplace because of their illness, often permanently. Mental
illness can rob people of their livelihoods and their passions, and can negatively
impact their families.
As an advocate for good mental health in your workplace, you can play a key role in
changing how people think about mental illness, support those who need help, and
maybe even help save lives. By developing an informed, compassionate understanding
of mental health, you can help remove the stigmas that often prevent people from
seeking the help they need. We look forward to exploring innovative ways we can
partner with you, our members, to support positive communities.
By Ryan Cameron