Canada’s Bell Let’s Talk Day is an initiative, sponsored by Bell that was started in 2010 to promote public awareness of mental health issues. The initiative also seeks to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. Supporters of the movement use the hashtag #BellLetsTalk to open up conversations about anxiety, schizophrenia, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder and other mental illnesses.
Since 2010, Bell has raised more than $73 million for mental health initiatives throughout Canada. The telephone company donates five cents every time someone uses the hashtag on social media on Bell Let’s Talk Day. Last year, millions of people took to social media to discuss Bell Let’s Talk day. Famous stars, including Alice Cooper, Ellen DeGeneres, Nelly Furtado and Michael Bublé tweeted the hashtag. Many others opened up on social media about their mental health struggles.
This year’s Bell Let’s Talk Day takes place on January 31st, 2018. For every Bell Let’s Talk social media post, text, video, tweet and call, Bell will donate five cents to the cause. They will also give five cents every time someone uses a Bell Let’s Talk Snapchat filter or Facebook frame on January 31st.
Mental illness has a far-ranging effect on people’s social, medical and occupational functioning. Psychological problems affect many employees. Mental health problems are often overlooked in the workplace because workers tend to shy away from talking about it – likely due to the stigma surrounding mental illness and a fear of losing one’s job for taking time off. This makes many workers reluctant to seek treatment. The problem is that this damages the person’s career and health. It also results in reduced productivity at work.
Lost productivity due to workers’ depression and anxiety costs the Canadian economy $50 billion a year, according to a report released by the Conference Board of Canada. The report added that depression costs the economy at least $32.3 billion annually, while anxiety costs another $17.3 billion a year. Employee productivity is lost through both absenteeism when employees are away from their jobs and when they attend work while sick and perform with reduced productivity, the group says.
Many employees feel chronically stressed at work. Also, they don’t believe that their employers are supporting their well-being. In fact, the 2016 Work and Well-Being Survey, conducted by the American Psychological Association, found that less than half of workers believed that their organization supports their well-being. In Rand’s annual Health, Wellbeing and Productivity in the Workplace Survey, mental health issues cause a significant productivity loss in the workplace. Employees that suffer from chronic health conditions, lack of sleep, financial worries and other stress-related concerns tend to have much higher rates of absenteeism than workers without such conditions.
As an employer, one of the proactive approaches you can take to help your employees is to open up discussion about mental illness. It is important to familiarize yourself with important training to understand mental health. In Canada, there are plenty of training resources for employers, such as:
- Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) – Helps employees and managers increase their awareness of the signs and symptoms of common mental health problems and know how to help when a colleague begins to experience a mental health problem or crisis.
- Road to Mental Readiness (R2MR) – Designed for first responders to help reduce the stigma that often surrounds mental health problems and mental illness.
- The Working Mind (TWM) – Intended to address and promote mental health and decrease the stigma of mental illness in the workplace while increasing resiliency.
Here are some more tips to show support for employees with mental health issues:
- Use person-first language – For example, a person that has been diagnosed with schizophrenia should never be referred to as a “schizo” or a “schizophrenic”. Instead, refer to such an employee as a « person with schizophrenia ».
- Break the silence – Don’t ignore talks about mental illness. Start a conversation about mental illness using the hashtag #BellLetsTalk on your social media accounts.
- Encourage your employees to get help – Allow your employees to take days off for psychiatric care. Ensure your health benefits plan provides coverage for mental health issues.
Supporting a coworker or employee who struggles with their mental health is about helping them to find ways to recover, helping them to stay well, and ensuring that the workplace is a safe and pleasant place to be, free from discrimination. This January 31st encourage your employees to participate in Bell Let’s Talk Day and start the conversation.
Benecaid is a leading provider of affordable employee health benefit plans for Canadian businesses of all sizes. Our solutions provide options that allow you to provide comprehensive mental health benefits for employees. Contact your Advisor today for more information.