TORONTO, Jan. 27, 2015 /CNW/ - On the eve of Bell Let's Talk Day, Ontario psychiatrists are shining a light on the dangers of unidentified and unmanaged workplace stress. Calling the work to improve stigma laudable, Ontario Psychiatrists are appealing to employers and Ontarians to identify and prevent workplace stress, and to introduce measures that treat workplace stress before it affects mental health and productivity.
"Mental health professionals across the province deal with the fallout of workplace stress and burnout every day," said Dr. Alison Freeland Associate Chief at the Royal Ontario Health Care Group and Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "The problem is widespread and the impact on our productivity and mental health is serious."
According to Statistics Canada, 20% of Canadians will suffer from a mental health related problem at some point in their lives. Almost 40% of Canadians suffer from workplace stress. Inflexibility of schedule, long hours, constant connectivity, tight deadlines, and lack of vacation time are cited as the main instigators of workplace stress. Statistics Canada research shows:
- Employers lose approximately $20 billion as a consequence of untreated mental health problems
- ¾ of short term disability claims are mental health related
- Untreated workplace stress leads to drops in productivity, poor workplace morale, decreases in output
"When workplace stress is untreated, physical health problems of employees worsen," said Dr. Gary Chaimowitz, Head of Forensic Psychiatry at McMaster University and Co-Chair of the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists. "Workplace stress can place strain on the physical health of employees and can lead to heart and weight related problems. Identifying workplace stress is the job of the employer and the employee."
Ontario Psychiatrists laid out several steps to identify and treat workplace stress:
Acknowledge. By acknowledging that workplace stress exists we can start to tackle the causes. Are your deadlines coming too quickly? Is your boss asking too much of you? Acknowledge that stress can have a real impact if ignored.
Talk. Workplaces must conduct regular discussions about stress and burnout. It's not enough to address stress after a crisis, or in an annual survey. Employees should feel comfortable discussing stress with employers.
Break the cycle. Set boundaries between work and leisure time. Take regular breaks during the day and incorporate exercise whenever possible. Try to disconnect, and have time away from the office without disruptions.
Act. Incorporate new ways to manage your time. Prioritize tasks and set reasonable, achievable deadlines. Taking steps to respond to stress will help mitigate feelings of being overworked and under rested.
Lead by example. The most innovative and successful companies know that productivity and output improve when staff have less stress. Turning email servers off at night, introducing flexible work hours, mandating that employees take vacations, and encouraging exercise during the day are some examples of how to help manage workplace stress.
About the Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists: The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists is a formal partnership of the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association. Psychiatrists provide high quality mental health services for Ontarians. The Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists represents over 1900 psychiatrists in Ontario. Formed in the late 1990s the Coalition facilitates coordination and cooperation between the Ontario Psychiatric Association and the Section on Psychiatry of the Ontario Medical Association.
SOURCE Coalition of Ontario Psychiatrists
For further information: Sarah Soteroff, Senior Communications Consultant, Santis Health, (416) 838-0077, [email protected]