This week is Mental Health Week, which is all about getting loud and making noise about mental health issues.
Workers affiliated with the Teamsters Union have been getting loud about the issue of mental health for years. Whether it’s the courageous young workers who spoke up about mental health issues in our youth committee’s campaign last October, or the men and women of Local Union 362 who pushed back against the stigma of mental health when tragedy struck their workplace in June 2012.
But not every mental health issue in Canada comes with a social media campaign and an online video series. In fact, one out of every five Canadians will suffer from a mental health problem in their lifetime.
Despite the widespread nature of the problem, an intense stigma surrounding mental illness still persists. In one of the videos produced by Local Union 362, you’ll see how the mother of Business Agent Jordan Madarash took years to open up about her own struggles with mental health.
A stigma at home is also a stigma at work.
According to a 2008 survey, just 50% of Canadians would tell friends or co-workers that they have a family member with a mental illness as opposed to other types of illnesses. Moreover, 46% of Canadians thought people use the term mental illness as an excuse for bad behaviour.
Today in Canada, we’ve gotten to a point where three out of every four short-term disability claims are related to mental health problems. This week, 500,000 workers will miss work because of a mental health issue. And this year, 51 billion dollars will be lost due to mental illness.
When Teamsters and workers across the country get loud about mental health, we can truly start making progress on the issue. Let’s break down the barriers of silence surrounding mental health and make our way toward a healthier and safer workplace.