Priority on mental health

Among youth aged 15 to 24, only 40% of those questioned said they had excellent or good mental health. It is slightly lower for those 24 years and over, but still alarming all the same.

These are numbers that talk and above all that question; according to Statistics Canada, the number of people reporting good mental health has plummeted since the pandemic. The vast majority of Canadians affected say they have developed symptoms consistent with “moderate” or “severe” generalized anxiety disorder.

Of course, this also affects attitude and performance at work. Although employers seem to be increasingly aware of this fact, they often find themselves at a loss when it comes to applying the right actions aimed at the prevention of mental disorders within their organizations. Evidently, managers despite their good will, in many cases, do not know where to start the tackling problem. Most do not have the training, or the experience, or even the tools to help their employees struggling with a mental health problem.

Who can blame them? The phenomenon is new and very sudden. Never before seen.

Since employee assistance programs (EAPs) most often act at the curative stage, their role is first and foremost to offer a support service to employees who already have personal difficulties of varying degrees and types. The same goes for the government of Quebec. Its mental health assistance and support resources (the Info-Social 811 line, the 911 emergency service, plus the suicide prevention and assistance line (1 866 APPELLE) are timely emergency tools.

Fortunately, things are changing. Quebec and Ottawa are planning new campaigns aimed at informing and educating the public on the realities associated with mental health, the goal being the acceptance, respect and fair treatment of people affected by mental illness, all while reducing stigma.

Moreover, private organizations, such as Olympe, offer support services to businesses with the goal of assisting in the prevention of mental disorders. The idea is therefore to intervene upstream, and not downstream, meaning at the preventive level rather than curative. The future is thus in the development of new intervention methods, which must be properly adapted to the specific needs of each organization. . As the language changes, we integrate new vocabulary.

Some might say: “It’s about time!” It took a pandemic to realize that mental health must be taken into consideration in the same way as physical health and healthy lifestyles.

This reminds us that in every crisis, there are also opportunities. The old saying still holds true; behind every cloud is a silver lining.


By Roger Lemay