Today marks the 9th year of the wonderful Bell #LetsTalk campaign. Thanks to the efforts of Bell, political leaders, celebrities and influencers, and millions of Canadians who’ve spoken up about their mental health struggles, there has never been more awareness on the subject than there is today.
The monumental challenge of building Canada-wide awareness of mental health doesn’t feel so scary anymore. People are talking about it – it’s no longer a taboo. While cliché, it can’t be reiterated enough: the first step is THE biggest step. But now that the shoe is hitting the ground in the campaign’s 9th year, it’s time to ask: what’s next?
We Talked. Now, Let’s Go Do.
First, let’s not misconstrue: it’s crucial the conversation around mental health continues.
But we are constantly reminded that the mental health crisis has never been more pressing than it is now. Work stress is seen as a leading cause of mental illness in Canada. Millennials, the largest composition of today’s workforce, are working longer hours and experiencing burnout in their employment, leading to absenteeism and presenteeism burdens that are costing the Canadian economy more than $50 Billion per year. Mental health is now the leading cause of workplace absenteeism, not just in Canada, but globally.
This highlights the need for moving beyond awareness and towards action from employers, insists Dr. Ryan Todd, a clinical Psychiatrist at Foothills Hospital.
“We’re now talking about hard, irrefutable numbers that point to work stress as not just an ailment in the workplace, but a leading cause of mental illness overall. As a leader, it would be foolish to ignore this, and those who do will be left behind in a very competitive economy.”
“Progressive employers, progressive leaders, are needed more now than ever to get us over that hurdle. I hear more people talking about mental health today than ever before and there’s a lot of value in that. But there’s a limit to where talking gets us. Business leaders I’ve spoken with recognize the need, yet there’s so much uncertainty with how to proceed,” said Dr. Todd, also the CEO of headversity, a workplace resilience training solution.
Patricia Phillips, CEO of PBA Land & Development and progressive leader in her own right, prioritized a mental health action plan as part of PBA’s 2019 roadmap.
“In the course of a work day or a career, not everyone will experience mental illness, but everyone will struggle or have a challenge with their mental well-being. Our goal is to provide our employees with the tools they need so they can feel supported and ultimately be resilient when facing challenges,“ said Phillips.
“While mental well-being is not as easily measured as blood pressure or cholesterol, it is one of the single greatest determinants of health and employee performance. So it’s logical to put as much focus on mental health as we do on other performance metrics or employee wellness programs.”
As we celebrate the 9th edition of #LetsTalk, Dr. Todd suggests that if we don’t continue to push boundaries with this initiative, a great opportunity will be missed.
“There’s so much momentum with mental health. 9 years ago, Bell and its partners initiated this amazing, audacious campaign. Now, I think that we, as a collective, need to be asking ourselves: ‘what can we do next?’ And that’s not on Bell, far from it. It’s ‘how do we transition from talking to something more?’ And I believe now’s the time for action, and that begins in the workplace.”