Mental health issues costing Canadian economy billions

mental healthDepression and anxiety cost the Canadian economy at least $32.3 billion a year and $17.3 billion a year, respectively, in foregone GDP due to lost productivity, according to a new report from The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care, released in Ottawa.

“A large proportion of working Canadians have unmet mental health care needs that prevent them from performing to their utmost and our report shows this has serious consequences for the Canadian economy,” said Louis Thériault, Vice-President, Public Policy, The Conference Board of Canada. “Improving treatment of mental illness among working Canadians would offer significant benefits for individuals, businesses, society and the economy.”

Highlights

  • Depression and anxiety cost the Canadian economy at least $32.3 billion a year and $17.3 billion a year, respectively.
  • A large proportion of working Canadians have unmet mental health care needs that prevent them from working full-time or part-time.
  • Almost a quarter of Canadians living with a mental illness are unable to work because of their symptoms.
  • Employers can improve the treatment of anxiety and/or depression among employed Canadians by facilitating access to evidence-based benefits, programs and supports.

In Canada, it is estimated that mental illness can affect workplace functioning. If all employees living with depression/anxiety had access to better treatments and supports, then workplace functioning would improve significantly. Mental illness can also prevent some people from entering the workforce. If all these Canadians had access to better treatments and supports, the economy may see up to 352,000 Canadians with depression/anxiety enter the workforce as fully functional employees each year until 2035. Taken together, this could potentially boost Canada’s economy by up to $32.3 billion a year from improved treatment of depression and $17.3 billion a year from anxiety treatment.

Employees in services-producing industries feel they have the greatest need for mental health care. About 2.5 million employees in the services sector feel some sort of mental health care is required. Industries that have the highest proportion of employees with unmet mental health needs, include:

  • administrative support and waste management (44.4 per cent)
  • accommodation and food services (43.8 per cent); and
  • professional, and scientific and technical services (42.9 per cent).

Organizations can improve the treatment of anxiety and/or depression among employed Canadians by facilitating access to evidence-based benefits, programs and supports. Improved prevention strategies, both for new and recurrent onset of mental illness are also needed, along with effective return to work programs.

Healthy Brains At Work: Estimating the Impact of Workplace Mental Health Benefits and Programs is the third of a four-part series that explores the importance of addressing mental health and mental illnesses in Canadian workplaces.

This research was made possible through the financial support of Lundbeck Canada, Sun Life Financial, SCM Health Solutions, The Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Canadian Depression Research and Intervention Network, the Mood Disorders Society of Canada and The Conference Board of Canada’s Canadian Alliance for Sustainable Health Care (CASHC). – CNW

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