Managers need training in how to deal with mental health issues
TORONTO, June 21, 2011 /CNW/ - Mental health in the workplace is costing
Canadian organizations a lot of money and much of it is unnecessary,
according to a new study by Morneau Shepell. The study says that
intervention through Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) translates
into improved employee mental health and higher productivity, as well
as a 25 per cent reduction in costs due to lost productivity.
"Mental health is a business issue in the Canadian workplace," states
Karen Seward, Senior Vice-President, Business Development and
Marketing, Morneau Shepell. "People with mental health issues are
uncomfortable at work and it affects their job. However, most managers
have little or no training in how to manage employees with these
problems. There is definitely a lot of room for education and
For the study, titled EAP Improves Health Status and Productivity, and Demonstrates a Positive
ROI, Morneau Shepell gathered information from 53,224 EAP client cases
which opened and closed during 2010. The data was collected through a
survey, and involved responses from both employees and dependents
covered by the EAP.
Furthering awareness on mental health issues, Morneau Shepell sponsored
the Conference Board of Canada report Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces: Perspectives of Canadian Workers
and Front-Line Managers, which was released yesterday. That report provided a national
perspective from working Canadians on their work environment, and the
degree to which it supports their mental well-being. It said 44 per
cent of employees surveyed had experienced a mental health issue, but
only 26 per cent of surveyed employees felt that their supervisor
effectively managed mental health issues, and 44 per cent of managers
had no training in how to manage employees with mental health issues.
The Morneau Shepell study collected data to measure four specific
outcomes: general health status, mental health status, productivity,
and absenteeism. Here are some of its findings:
Employees rated their mental health 15 per cent higher after receiving
EAP intervention resulted in a 34 per cent reduction in costs related to
Before EAP intervention, decreased productivity and absence was costing
organizations almost $20,000 per employee per year.
"Research shows that workers with depressive disorders, in particular,
can have almost four times more health-related lost productive time
than those who do not suffer from these problems," Seward said. "The
toll on the bottom line is huge."
The Mental Health Commission of Canada estimates that mental illness
costs the Canadian economy $51 billion a year in terms of health care
service use, lost workdays, and work disruptions.
Seward said that, in addition to EAPs, a number of tools are available
to assist organizations. They include workshops about mental health in
the workplace; consultants who design programs to address the problem;
a disability program that focuses on identification, support and access
to mental health care; Drug Analysis and a Sustainability Index which
provides trends, benchmarks and best practices in mental health, and
manager support. Other tools, both provided through EAP, are Work
Assist which is a voluntary counselling support service that focuses on
emotional and mental health and is designed to help employees on
short-term or long-term disability benefits return to healthy
productive living, and Depression Care which is an enhanced service
that builds on basic confidential counselling.
Today EAPs serve about 75 per cent of North American businesses and are
a key component of benefit plans. The Morneau Shepell study makes two
Organizations should develop a more strategic partnership with their EAP
provider as a first step in realizing the return on their investment.
The provider can recommend strategies to optimize the use of the EAP as
a preventative measure with the objective of saving costs down the
line, and be positioned to make recommendations around the strategic
use of EAP services to support the organization's health priorities.
Organizations should consider a comprehensive, strategic approach to
absence management. To promote sustained attendance at work, and
prevent downstream costs and consequences, they should shift from
standalone absence administration programs to attendance management
strategies aligned with the company's business objectives, cost
management goals, and strategies related to employee engagement and
Earlier this year Morneau Shepell established a Mental Health Advisory
Board to help advise its clients of mental health solutions in the
workplace, and it includes internationally renowned mental health
specialists from across Canada. Dr. Martin Shain, who is a member of
the Advisory Board, has estimated that $3 billion to $11 billion could
be saved annually in Canada if mental injuries caused by the actions of
employers are prevented.
Morneau Shepell is the largest Canadian-based firm offering industry
leading benefits and pension consulting, outsourcing, as well as health
and productivity solutions. The company works with clients to develop
innovative solutions that integrate with their business strategies to
achieve results. Through Benefits and Health Solutions Consulting,
Pension Consulting, Health Management, Administration Solutions and
Shepell-fgi's Employee Assistance Program, Morneau Shepell helps
clients reduce costs, increase employee productivity, and improve their
competitive positions by supporting their employees' financial
security, health and well-being.
Established in 1962, Morneau Shepell has grown to serve over 8,000
clients, ranging from small businesses to some of the largest
corporations and associations in North America. Headquartered in
Toronto, Ontario, it has offices in the United States and over 70
locations across Canada. Morneau Shepell Inc. is a publicly traded
company on the Toronto Stock Exchange (TSX). For more information,
SOURCE Morneau Shepell Ltd.
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