Job insecurity and difficulties balancing work and family life are key components of mental health issues in the workplace

Results of an extensive study of workers' mental health

TORONTO, June 19, 2013 /CNW Telbec/ - Job insecurity, abusive supervision, excessive demands, the encroachment of work on family life and domestic relationship problems top the list of factors that contribute to the development of mental health issues among workers.

These findings, disclosed today, are the results of the largest research study ever conducted on the subject in Canada. The study was undertaken by researchers at the Université de Montréal, Concordia University and Université Laval with the support of Standard Life.

Researchers focused on a series of factors that may lead to the development of psychological distress, depression and burnout at work. More than 2,100 employees at 63 companies were interviewed about their personal and professional lives. The results of this questionnaire were supported by cortisol measurements. This research methodology is a first in the field of study of mental health factors in the workplace. Cortisol is a hormone found in saliva and recognized as an indicator of an individual's stress level.

The researchers responsible for the study, professors Alain Marchand and Pierre Durand of the Université de Montréal's School of Industrial Relations, are convinced the impacts of an individual's personal and work-related problems on his or her mental health cannot be considered separately. Professor Durand explains: "The strength of this research is that it takes a large number of factors into account. These include work organization, family and employment relationships and certain personality traits, such as self-esteem, as well as other potential risk factors, like chronic illness or alcohol misuse."

The study also provided an opportunity to review approximately 65 corporate practices designed to reduce stress and improve employee health. These practices range from operating a company fitness centre to implementing shorter working hours. "The good news is that we know it is possible to introduce effective measures to reduce mental health risks," says Eric Pfeiffer, Senior Consultant, Health and Wellness, at Standard Life. "The results of this study will provide our customers with additional motivation to adopt an integrated prevention approach tailored to their specific business needs."

The study was funded in part by the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and the Fonds de recherche du Québec - Santé, and conducted over a period of more than 4 years with 2,162 workers from all sectors. Saliva samples to determine cortisol levels were taken from 401 workers and compared to questionnaire results. The saliva samples were taken at five different times of the day on three separate occasions (on two workdays and on one day off).

The Mental Health Commission of Canada reports that approximately 1 out of 5 employees (21.4% of Canada's working population) suffers from a mental illness that potentially affects his or her productivity at work. Lost productivity related to absenteeism, presenteeism (when a worker is physically present but unproductive) and turnover costs Canadian companies $6.3 billion each year.

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About Standard Life

The Standard Life Assurance Company of Canada ("Standard Life") provides long-term savings, investments and insurance solutions to more than 1.4 million Canadians, including group retirement and insurance plan members.

Standard Life promotes a comprehensive approach to health and wellness in the workplace. As part of its group insurance offering, it provides support to employers who wish to develop health and wellness strategies, design and implement customized programs, and analyze results. Standard Life strives to help its corporate clients improve financial results by integrating health and wellness with drug and absence management programs.

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For further information:

Geoffrey King
Standard Life
514-499-7999, ext. 8150

Mark James
Cohn & Wolfe
Off. 647-259-3316
Cell. 416-400-5263

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