Mental health issues are rising – here's how HR can help

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health issue in their lives

Mental health issues are rising – here's how HR can help

One in five Canadian employees experience a mental health issue at some point in their working lives – meaning that, at any given time, 500,000 people are off work due to psychological illness.

And this was pre-COVID.

The full impact the virus has had on our subconscious will only become apparent in the coming months and years – however, we are starting to see some of the knock-on effects seep through.

HRD spoke to Katy Kamkar, clinical psychologist and assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at University of Toronto.

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Kamkar revealed the plethora of emotions we’ve all undergone since the pandemic – and why mental health issues are steadily climbing.

“As we’ve seen from various research pieces, mental health issues in Canada are on the rise,” she told HRD.

“Since the onslaught of COVID-19, everyone has been impacted in some way - whether directly or indirectly, physically or mentally.

“Employees are reporting low moods, depression, anxiety – as well as feelings of grief, irritability and anger. It’s a continuum.

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“People miss going about their daily lives – they miss grabbing a coffee with a friend or heading out for dinner or attending some form of social event – that’s all gone. This has made balancing work responsibilities even more difficult.”

So, what can employers do to help stem the tide of mental health issues coming your way this year?

To begin with, it’s time to stop pretending that everything is okay.

Be positive, of course, but by refusing to speak about the negatives, employees will feel unheard – like they can’t bring their authentic selves to work.

Secondly, give your staff some credit. People are resilient and they will bounce back. For HR leaders, it’s about giving staff the space to feel comfortable in being uncomfortable – at least for a while.

For more information on how to lead your teams when you yourself are feeling low, read HRD’s recent mental health awareness feature here.

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