Mental Illness Awareness Week - September 30 to October 7, 2007

    Minding the Workplace just makes 'cents'

    EDMONTON, Oct. 1 /CNW/ - The office vending machine is stocked with
granola bars instead of chocolate bars. A lunch time walking club meets three
times a week. These are all signs of a good working environment, but one
crucial health component needs to be addressed in order to make it a healthy
    According to Dr. Doug Watson, executive medical director at the Alberta
Mental Health Board (AMHB), "it's about the need for a workplace that promotes
a healthy work-life balance, encourages employees to seek professional help
when necessary, and ensures a compassionate work environment where people can
speak freely about their mental health concerns and receive the same response
as if they were suffering from a physical disease such as cancer."
    "There is no health without mental health," says Watson and points out
that in addition to just doing the right thing in creating a healthy
workplace, it also makes good "cents" for employers to invest in their staff's
mental health.
    The fact is mental health problems affect every organization's bottom
line: They are the leading cause of disability in Canadian workplaces.
Great-West Life Assurance Company estimates 30 per cent of disability claims
relate to mental illnesses.
    The impact on job performance of an employee with depression, one of the
most common mental health problems found in the workplace, is estimated to be
greater than that of chronic conditions such as arthritis, hypertension and
back problems. The Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and
Mental Health estimates that $33 billion is lost in productivity each year due
to mental illness in the Canadian labour force.
    In order to build a healthy workplace, employers must have the right
tools to work with. Investing in the right programs can help lower absenteeism
rates and improve a company's bottom line.
    In responding to this need, the AMHB has organized a one-day conference
October 3 called Minding the Workplace for employers, human resource
specialists and other interested people. Featured speakers include Janice
Stein, Director of the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University
of Toronto addressing how global events can influence our perception of the
world; Tod Maffin, "one of Canada's most influential futurists," according to
The Globe and Mail; and Judith MacBride-King, a recognized expert in the human
resources and management fields and an accomplished researcher, formerly with
the Conference Board of Canada.
    The conference will also feature workplace programs such as Mental Health
First Aid Canada, Men at Risk and Antidepressant Skills at Work: Dealing with
Mood Problems in the Workplace, a workbook for employees.
    For more information click on the Minding the Workplace link at, featured on the left side of the AMHB website home page.

    The Alberta Mental Health Board is a provincial health authority that
oversees and advances Alberta's mental health system, serves in an advisory
capacity to the Minister of Health and Wellness, and works with health regions
and others to address system-wide mental health priority issues that span
regional, provincial and organizational boundaries.

For further information:

For further information: Beth Evans, Director, Mental Health Promotion,
(403) 297-2320; Josephine Lamy, Coordinator, Communications, (780) 969-0511

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Alberta Mental Health Board

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