Bell Let's Talk.

January 30th, 2019 | Mental Health Awareness

I wanted to look at mental health from a different perspective. There are many valuable stories shared about living with mental illness and the stigma associated with it, and I want to look at mental health and mental illness from the perspective of an employer. Specifically, I want to look at mental health policies and their importance in modern workplaces.

Brett Speight

CEO, United way central alberta

As we understand the importance of people caring for their mental health evolve, so to must the approach of workplaces. Mental health issues and mental illness account for high absenteeism and presenteeism. Statistics show approximately 500,000 employees in Canada are absent per week due to mental health problems and illness. The cost of these absences to the Canadian economy is $50 billion annually, and cost employers $6 billion annually (Mental Health Commission). With these numbers as large as they are it is surprising to learn that only 39 percent of workplaces have any kind of mental health policy in place.

Having a mental health policy that is as part of an overall wellness policy is an important part of today’s workplace, and is beneficial not only to employees, but employers as well.

So how does a workplace implement a mental health policy? There are some fantastic resources available through the Mental Health Commission of Canada that include resources, case studies, a toolkit, and training tools. These resources are available at There are also a number of resources available at, and the Canadian Mental Health Association at These resources will help employers and workplaces of any size to get started with a mental health policy. I know I will be using these tools to review our policies and practices around mental health here at United Way Central Alberta.

If you are someone who wants to learn more about how you can improve your mental health or you suffer with a mental illness and don’t know where to turn call 211 within the City of Red Deer or visit throughout Central Alberta.

Mental Health Commission. (n.d.). Workplace. Retrieved from Mental Health Commision: