TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Oct. 9, 2012) - The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) has banded together with several provincial labour unions and the Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers (OHCOW) to launch a Mental Injury Tool Kit on October 10, 2012, in recognition of World Mental Health Day. This tool kit is part of a broader plan of action to educate workers so they can recognize and prevent psycho-social hazards in the workplace from causing mental injuries to themselves and their colleagues.
"Psycho-social hazards in the workplace, such as bullying, harassment, intimidation, unreasonable work demands and poor work organization all take their toll on the mental health of workers," said OFL President Sid Ryan. "Workplace stress and mental distress can carry huge costs for employers, insurers and health care agencies, but the biggest toll is taken on workers and their families. It is time we named this problem and took action to address it."
According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, one in 20 employees are experiencing depression at any given time and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) has priced these and other mental health disorders in Canada at roughly $51 billion per year. Meanwhile, research from Québec has shown that workplace absenteeism, which includes time off due to stress and burn-out, can add as much as 17 percent to the labour costs of an organization.
However, Canadian trends are as part of a worldwide epidemic. In Europe, mental distress has been identified as the cause of half of all lost work days. In the USA, lost time due to mental distress rose by 36 percent between 1995 to 1998 at an annual cost of $150 billion to the American economy. Yet Ontario has lagged behind Québec and many European countries in recognizing and preventing psycho-social hazards.
On October 10, the "Mental Injury Tool Kit for Ontario Workers" will be launched at a day-long conference hosted at the eDome at Sudbury's Cambrian College, with video-feeds to other locations. Originally intended for Ontario audiences, the project has attracted international interest and participants are expected to join the e-conference from across Canada, Europe, Australia and the United Arab Emirates.
The tool kit brings together and builds on resources from Canada and around the world that focus on the prevention of psycho-social hazards in the workplace. It will be made available electronically on the OHCOW website http://www.ohcow.on.ca/.
"Too many workers have suffered these mental injuries in silence for far too long," said Ryan. "The workplace health and safety advocates who put this tool kit together should be commended for putting the spotlight on an issue that many people find difficult to talk about."
The Ontario Federation of Labour (OFL) represents 54 unions and one million workers in Ontario. For information, visit www.OFL.ca and follow the OFL on Facebook and Twitter: @OFLabour.