OTTAWA, Oct. 9, 2013 /CNW/ - Up to 90 per cent of Canadians living with
serious mental illnesses are unemployed. This is Canada's Aspiring
Workforce; people with the skills and abilities so needed by employers
in today's economy.
The Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) is marking Mental Illness
Awareness Week* (October 6 - 12) with the release of several
research-based and implementable recommendations to strengthen
employment support for Canadians with serious mental illness.
"Some employers are reluctant to hire people with mental illness, in
many cases due to the stigma associated with it," says Louise Bradley,
MHCC President and CEO. "With a job, these individuals would be
healthier, have higher self-esteem, have a higher standard of living
and contribute more to the economy."
The Aspiring Workforce consists of people with a serious mental illness
who have been unable to enter the workforce, have been in and out of
the workforce, or are attempting to return to work after being away for
a lengthy period of time.
Stigma, discrimination, inflexible disability income polices, and inadequate
support for people finding and keeping a job are some of the reasons
Canada's Aspiring Workforce is being largely left out of the employment
equation. The Aspiring Workforce Report—produced in collaboration with the Centre for Addiction and Mental
Health (CAMH), the University of Toronto, and Queen's
University—provides several recommendations to help policy makers,
governments, and employers strengthen workplace support for Canadians
with serious mental illness.
The recommendations include ensuring supported employment programs that
help people find and keep jobs are well-matched to interests and career
goals; the development of a formal network to advance the development,
growth, and legitimacy of social businesses for people with mental
illnesses; changes to disability support policies to provide
flexibility that recognizes individuals with mental health issues often
have intermittent work capacity; and, increasing the Aspiring
Workforce's 'workplace know-how', including everything from better
understanding their human rights to improving the knowledge and
understanding of the symptoms of their illness.
"As the labour market for both skilled and non-skilled employees
continues to decline, as predicted, it will become critical for
businesses to tap into under-employed groups within the Canadian
population," says Andrea Payne, Human Resources Manager at J.E. Agnew
Food Services Ltd., which operate 18 Tim Hortons restaurants. "At Tim
Hortons in Kingston, partnering with community organizations such as
Frontenac Community Mental Health & Addictions Services, has made this
not only possible, but extremely successful for all parties."
Bradley also encourages more workplaces to become familiar with the National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace to prevent psychological harm and promote wellbeing of all employees. Mental Health First Aid courses are also available to provide the skills and knowledge to help
people better manage potential or developing mental health problems.
The Aspiring Workforce Report aligns with the recommendations in the Mental Health Strategy for Canada, the MHCC's blueprint to promote better mental health, prevent mental
illness, and ensure that services and supports are there for people who
need them. Specifically, the Aspiring Workforce Report aligns with the Strategy's recommendation to enhance supports for
people living with mental health problems and illnesses to pursue
education and work, make disability benefit programs more adaptable,
and remove financial disincentives that hinder a return to work or
*organized annually in Canada by the Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness
and Mental Health
ABOUT THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMISSION OF CANADA
The Mental Health Commission of Canada is a catalyst for change. We are
collaborating with hundreds of partners to change the attitudes of
Canadians toward mental health problems and to improve services and
support. Our goal is to help people who live with mental health
problems and illnesses lead meaningful and productive lives. Together
we create change. The Mental Health Commission of Canada is funded by
www.mentalhealthcommission.ca | strategy.mentalhealthcommission.ca
The views represented herein solely represent the views of the Mental
Health Commission of Canada.
Production of this document is made possible through a financial
contribution from Health Canada.
SOURCE: Mental Health Commission of Canada
For further information:
Kyle Marr, Senior Communications Specialist
Mental Health Commission of Canada
Sign up for the MHCC Newsletter