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Canadian Mental Health Association shares tips on how to recognize workplace mental health issues 0

By Michael Mui, 24 Hours Vancouver

(FOTOLIA)

(FOTOLIA)

"A lot of research is showing that … if someone had approached them early on, they felt their mental health issue won’t have escalated to the point is has." — Julia Kaisla, CMHA

Mental illness in the workplace is being highlighted at a two-day conference hosted by the Canadian Mental Health Association through Thursday.

Julia Kaisla, CMHA director of community engagement, said the Bottom Line conference focuses on an area not often thought about as related to a mental health issue.

“Most of us in the workplace, we know when someone is struggling. It might be changes in their physical health, changes in their eating habits, or changes in their personal appearance,” she said on Tuesday.

“You might say, ‘I’ve noticed you’ve been sick more often this year than you were last year.’ As a co-worker (asking the question) doesn’t have the same connotation as a manager, and sometimes, identifying what you’re seeing makes it more real.”

Or if they’re not as social as before, she continued — sometimes it also manifests in work-related errors, which can be a danger to other employees in fields where safety risk is high.

Workplace consultant Mary Ann Baynton said about 20% of Canadians believe their workplaces aren’t “psychologically safe,” or are toxic or stressful in some way.

“(Such as) a lack of psychological support. When you’re struggling nobody notices and nobody reaches out — there’s just pressure or more demands,” Baynton said.

She said a National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety has now been created to prevent people from drowning in such environments. The standard is voluntary but it’s her hope more companies would adopt it.

The conference is also expected to address Bill 14 — introduced in B.C. in 2012 to target bullying and harassment in the workplace — to talk about its impacts since implementation.

“Businesses nowadays is realizing there’s a cost associated with this because of productivity issues,” Kaisla added.

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