Mental health can affect everyone. In fact, 1 in 5 Canadians experience a mental health problem or illness each year.
There are many social and genetic factors that contribute to mental health issues. Yet younger generations face unique circumstances that can worsen their experience with mental illness, especially in the workplace. They are hyper-aware of issues that unfold across the globe, as they have grown up alongside society where online connections are made and fostered.
Constant distractions and mounting pressures
As a result, focus is often distracted through notifications, emails, and a constant stream of news alerts on phones/computers. These constant reminders create a sense of pressure to solve and stand up for societal issues they care about, alongside the pressures to succeed at work in a post-pandemic economy.
An article published in 2020 states, “With algorithms of highly addicting social media, being constantly plugged into our devices could help us stay connected to our friends and family, but it also makes us susceptible to serious mental health issues as well.”
Rising cases and rising costs in mental health
The issue is worsening, hospitalizations for younger generations have seen a marked increase in the past ten years.
Between 2008–2009 and 2018–2019, there was a 61% increase in emergency department visits and a 60% in hospitalizations for mental disorders in children and young people in Canada.
It also costs the Canadian government $50 billion per year on mental health and related issues.
From an employment standpoint, the lack of mental health support can affect a young person’s ability to grow and perform in the workplace. This can cause a vicious cycle of unemployment, therein marginalizing those affected from opportunities to build their skills and confidence as working professionals.
Without proper mental health support and accommodation from employers, young people experiencing mental health concerns will further suffer from their illness and stigma.
Support in the workplace requires a preventative approach
There are many things employers can do - or build on - to protect the mental health and safety of their employees.
Employers can start with recommendations from The Government of Canada. In addition, employers can do the following:
- Mental health support incentives - therapy or counselling service
- Workshops to destigmatize mental illness and prioritize self-care
- Workplace team building on support and encouragement - safe spaces to talk
Mental health support in the workplace equals a stronger workforce
Studies have shown that employers who make these short and long term investments in their employees will see better engagement, morale, satisfaction, retention and productivity. These investments can also reduce absenteeism, grievances, health costs, medical leave and workplace injury.
The young people of today will be the leaders of tomorrow, as such the next steps taken are important to building a better world and workplace for the next generation .