A new report from Children’s Mental Health Ontario says the provincial economy suffered a productivity loss of $421 million in 2017 due to parents missing work to care for their child with anxiety.
CMHO’s annual report card, titled The Burden of Kids Mental Illness on Families and the Economy, is based on new research findings from the Canadian Centre for Health Economics at the University of Toronto and was commissioned after market research firm Ipsos found in 2017 that one in four parents in Ontario missed work to care for their child with anxiety.
To arrive at $421 million, researchers considered average salary and absenteeism data from Statistics Canada. The calculation doesn’t include costs associated with lower productivity or under-performance.
This report marks the first time the indirect costs to Ontario employers due to parents caring for children with mental health issues has been estimated. The Mental Health Commission of Canada has previous assessed the cost of mental illness at $50 billion to the Canadian economy annually, with $20 billion of that stemming directly from workplace losses.
CMHO says an additional government investment of $150 million to support families across Ontario would curb the burden on the economy by:
- Ensuring no child or youth waits more than 30 days for mental health and addictions treatment
- Expanding specialized youth mental health and addictions centres so children and youth get the treatment they need, which may include emergency or 24-hour crisis care outside of hospitals
- Hiring and retaining the highest skilled staff caring for the most vulnerable children, including 1,400 new full-time professionals
- Increasing capacity for transition-aged youth (18) and increasing the age for child and youth mental health care to 25 to ensure improved care between child, youth and adult services
- Supporting parents and siblings in their communities and in the workplace with family counselling
- Developing quality standards to deliver the best mental health and addictions services
Read the full CMHO annual report card.