Reach Out Say Psychiatrists: Mental Health is a Smart Investment in Hard Economic Times

    CPA supports the theme for Mental Health Week 2009 (May 4-10): Mental
    Health and the Economy

    OTTAWA, May 4 /CNW Telbec/ - Tough economic times are tough on mental
health and people need to reach out. "Reach out for help when you start to
feel you're in trouble. Don't wait until things spiral out of control," urges
Dr. Susan Abbey, President of the Canadian Psychiatric Association.
    The Canadian Psychiatric Association (CPA) applauds Mental Health Week's
focus on the economy. "It's tempting to put mental health on the back burner
while dealing with the worries of financial survival but it's bad business-for
individuals, organizations and governments. Good mental health bolsters the
ability to cope with uncertainty and bounce back from adversity," says Dr.
    Research tells us people who are unemployed have poorer health overall
and suffer from poor mental health related to the stress of unemployment.(1)
The latest unemployment figures from Statistics Canada figures show men aged
25 to 54 are overrepresented among the recently unemployed.(2) This is
particularly concerning because men are three times less likely to seek help
for mental health problems.(3)
    Working Canadians also need to safeguard their mental health. Many are
challenged by underemployment, increased workloads, less control over their
work and decreased job and financial security-conditions that can put them at
higher risk of depression and anxiety.(4) In 2002 it was estimated half a
million workers were living with depression and a million more (eight per cent
of the workforce) had experienced depression at some point prior to that
year.(5) Yet despite research that suggests that people's work performance
improves rapidly when their depression is treated, only 34 per cent of
employees say they have easy access to services and tools at work to help with
mental health issues.(6),(7)
    Depression and anxiety alone costs the Canadian economy $14 billion in
lost productivity annually in the form of disability days, missed work days
and presenteeism.(8) Presenteeism is when an employee comes to work but
functions at a reduced level due to illness. Depression alone has been
estimated to have more impact on job performance than most chronic medical
conditions with losses from presenteeism outstripping losses from
    "It's not just up to individuals to reach out," emphasizes Dr. Abbey.
"Employers have an important role to play by reaching out to their employees
with prevention and screening strategies, as well as education and awareness
training including workplace mental health literacy programs to reduce the
stigma surrounding mental illness."
    Many support groups like the Canadian Mental Health Association who
spearheads Mental Health Week provide mental health information to people in
the community. For more information on Mental Health Week 2009, see:
    For resources on workplace mental health, see:

    - Research Works, Employee Personal Financial Distress and How Employers
      Can Help, a new issue brief series from the American Psychiatric
      Foundation at
    - Minding the Workplace from Alberta Health Services at

    For resources on coping with unemployment, see:

    Coping with Unemployment, CMHA brochure at

    The Canadian Psychiatric Association is the national voice for Canada's
4,100 psychiatrists and more than 600 psychiatric residents. Founded in 1951,
the CPA is dedicated to promoting an environment that fosters excellence in
the provision of clinical care, education and research.

    Statistical References:

    1.  Shields, Margot. 2006. "Stress and depression in the employed
        population," Health Reports. Statistics Canada Catalogue no. 82-003.
        Vol. 13, no. 4,p.11-29. and Wag, Jianli. 2005. "Work stress as a risk
        factor for major depressive episodes (s)." Psychological Medicine.
        Vol. 35, no. 6, p. 2084-2095.
    2.  Labour Force Survey. Statistics Canada. March 2007.
    3.  Drapeau Aline, Lesage Alain, Boyer Richard. Is the statistical
        association between sex and the use of services for mental health
        reasons confounded or modified by social achorage? The Canadian
        Journal of Psychiatry. 2005:50(10);p601.
    4.  Sanderson Kristy, Andrews Gavin. Common mental disorders in the
        workforce: recent findings from descriptive and social epidemiology.
        Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. 2006:51(2);p 63-75 (page 7 online).
    5.  Gilmour H, Patten S. Perspectives on labour and income: depression at
        work. Statistics Canada. November 2007.
    6.  Referenced in Krupa Terry. Interventions to improve employment
        outcomes for workers who experience mental illness. Canadian Journal
        of Psychiatry. 2007:52(6);341 from reference 4,16,17.
    7.  Desjardins Financial Security Survey. 2007.
    8.  Global Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health.
    9.  Dewa Carolyn, McDaid David, Ettner Susan. An International
        perspective on worker mental health problems: who bears the burden
        and how are costs addressed. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry.
    10. Dewa CS, Lesage A, Goering P, Craven M. Nature and prevalence of
        mental illness in the workplace. Healthc Pap. 2004;5(2):12-15.

For further information:

For further information: Ms. Hélène Côté, Communications Officer, (613)
234-2815 ext. 232,

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