Survey finds growing concern about the impact of mental health issues in the workplace but lack of awareness in the Executive Suite

    TORONTO, July 15 /CNW Telbec/ - A survey of over 450 Canadian
organizations conducted by Mercer in conjunction with The Canadian Alliance on
Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) found that mental health issues are
a growing concern for employers. Almost 80% reported that mental health issues
have increased in importance compared to three to five years ago. Mental
illness is estimated to result in 35 million workdays lost every year in
Canada and low productivity related to mental illness adds significant cost to
    Respondents, about 85% of whom were human resources representatives,
reported that only 13% of senior executives have a strong awareness of the
impact of mental health on the organization. "The high ranking that mental
health has on the HR priorities list combined with the lack of awareness at
the top of the organization is cause for concern," said Anne Nicoll, Mercer
Principal. "Executive knowledge and commitment to action are critical in
addressing this issue. The majority of respondents who reported strong
executive awareness said the most effective means to achieving this is through
a senior champion in the organization."
    Forty-seven percent of respondents with no or only some senior executive
awareness have no plans or don't know what they will do to improve the
awareness of the executive team. According to Ms. Nicoll, "One of the
impediments to senior buy-in is the lack of measurement of the impact of
mental health issues needed to make a business case for action. Only 22% of
respondents reported that they measure the impact of mental health issues. Of
those that do, the top two measures reported were disability claim statistics
and EAP usage, which means that employees who do not access these programs are
not being captured at all."
    Two-thirds of the survey respondents also appear to be underestimating
the prevalence of mental illness in the workplace. A recent study by the
Public Health Agency of Canada estimated that 13% of the adult population in
Canada have either been diagnosed with a mental illness or are undiagnosed.
However, 46% of respondents reported that they have 5% or fewer employees who
experience mental illness in a year and another 22% estimated the prevalence
to be between 5% and 10%.
    A majority of respondents said not enough was being done to improve
workload balance and work based social supports. "Preventive measures are
important in addressing the workplace factors affecting mental health, said
Philip Upshall of CAMIMH. "Senior champions in the workplace are key to
driving change, especially in an environment where 54% reported a lack of
awareness by front-line managers and supervisors of mental health issues and
57% said that mental health issues are not treated equally to physical health
issues by front-line managers."
    Four hundred and fifty-two human resource professionals and business
leaders participated in the on-line survey between April 17 and May 9, 2008.
Participants represented a wide range of industry sectors and sizes from
organizations with less than 100 employees to those with more than
5,000 employees in Canada.

    About Mercer

    Mercer is a leading global provider of human resource consulting,
outsourcing and investment services. Mercer helps organizations leverage the
power of their people to achieve peak company performance within a highly
disciplined, rigorous financial and investment framework. Mercer provides
specialized consulting services to support employers in absence management and
improving health and productivity of their workforce. Mercer serves over
25,000 clients globally from more than 180 locations worldwide.

    About CAMIMH

    The Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health (CAMIMH) is an
alliance of mental health organizations representing consumers, families,
national non-governmental organizations, professional associations in the
mental health field, and health care providers. CAMIMH's mandate is to ensure
that mental illness and mental health are a priority on the national agenda.

    Mercer is a supporter of Mental Illness Awareness Week, an annual
national public education campaign designed to raise awareness among Canadians
about the significant social and economic impact mental illnesses have on our

For further information:

For further information: Nancy Altilia, (416) 868-2364,; Martin Sampson (on behalf of CAMIMH), (613)

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