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CBC reports on economic impact of mental illness in the work force

October 4, 2012

A recent report by the Conference Board of Canada (CBC)provides an estimate on the economic cost of mental illness among working age Canadians, as well as the effects of mental illness on the workplace and fellow employees. The report, titled, “Mental Health Issues in the Labour Force: Reducing the Economic Impact on Canada” also makes a case for employers and government to mitigate the cost of lost participation in the workforce due to mental illness.

To measure lost productivity costs, the report looked at the six most common mental illnesses in Canadian workplaces:

  1. Depression
  2. Dysthymia
  3. Bipolar disorder
  4. Social phobia
  5. Panic disorder and
  6. Agoraphobia

In a small scale survey and with the use of claims data, clinicians categorized conditions by their impact on peoples’ ability to work. Results showed that bipolar disorder has the greatest impact on the inability to work full-time.

If not addressed, the report predicts that costs associated with mental illness could rise from $20.7 billion to $29.1 billion by 2030. Conversely, if measures are put in place to increase workplace participation and reduce mental health barriers for those experiencing a mental illness, a 1.3 per cent increase in GDP could occur.

The effects of poor mental health, says the report, are affected by unique workplace conditions and practices. Workplaces can be improved for persons with mental illness by creating conditions that support the participation of this worker population, and by addressing the stigma of mental illness in the environment.

See “Mental Health Issues in the Labour Force: Reducing the Economic Impact on Canada,” available at the Conference Board of Canada website.

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