WHAT ARE "MENTAL HEALTH DIFFICULTIES", AND HOW COMMON ARE THEY?

The term covers a very wide spectrum, from near-universal human experiences such as depression, anxiety and grief to less common problems, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, to the much rarer and more complex disorders such as schizophrenia. Some people may have a diagnosed mental health disorder; others may be experiencing a period of mental distress. Mental health difficulty may be a constant factor in life; it may recur periodically; it may be a one-off experience. Depending on the definition, perhaps one in four people are experiencing mental health difficulties at any one time..

WHY ARE PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH DIFFICULTIES OFTEN RELUCTANT TO GO FOR HELP?

To a large extent, mental health difficulties are a hidden disability. It's unlikely that you would be able to tell anything about a person's mental health when you first met them. Many people will not disclose. People often fear discrimination, prejudice or stigma, or they fear the confidentiality of their disclosure will not be respected. Sometimes they feel their difficulties are shameful.

WHAT IS ACCOMODATION?

Any modification of the workplace, or in workplace procedures, that makes it possible for a person with special needs to do a job.

WHAT IS STIGMA?

Stigma is social disapproval directed toward an individual whose personal characteristics are different from social or cultural norms. Disapproval is often expressed by negative stereotypes and discriminating behaviour.
"The best antidote to stigma in the workplace is for the environment to be positive, encouraging and welcoming."
Mental health works: http://www.mentalhealthworks.ca/why-it-matters

WHY IS EMPLOYMENT IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH DIFFICULTIES?

Because being productive helps people recover. Employment helps people avoid the downward spiral of poverty, exclusion, loss of self-esteem and loss of social milieu. Employment builds identity as well as capacity. No single factor may be as significant in recovery.

WHAT IS DISCRIMINATION?

Discrimination means treating people differently, negatively or adversely on the basis of their membership in a certain group. In this case, discrimination in the workplace means treating people with mental health difficulties differently or restricting them from an opportunity on the basis of those difficulties.

WHY IS EMPLOYMENT IMPORTANT FOR PEOPLE WITH MENTAL HEALTH DIFFICULTIES?

Because being productive helps people recover. Employment builds identity as well as capacity; sustained employment averts the downward spiral of poverty, exclusion, loss of self-esteem and loss of social milieu. No single factor may be as significant in recovery.

If you're struggling with mental health problems, what can you do? Two experts we interviewed (see Additional Interviews) gave advice:

Counselling 101 - David Boudreau:

  • Seek support, through an EAP if your company has one
  • If you don't have an EAP, ask your doctor, your minister, or someone you know who is connected to other social services and can help you navigate the health care system
  • If you don't have a doctor or a minister, ask your friends who they would recommend
  • Don't be afraid to go for counseling. Many issues that press on people feel immense, but with a little support, some new ideas, you may find you're on your way
  • Working with a counselor, you'll often be able to develop proactive ways of dealing with problems before they spiral out of control.

You're Not Alone - Eva Guta:

  • Know your rights
  • Your rights are protected by the Human Rights Code of Canada, which prevents discrimination on the grounds of mental health
  • Stay informed
  • Keep in touch with your doctor and follow medical advice
  • Know that your contribution is valuable.