In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience depression, anxiety, PTSD, or other mental health condition, and at some point all Canadians will be indirectly affected through a family member, friend, or colleague.
My family is no different. I have a sibling with mental illness, and like many of you, I know what it’s like to love and care about someone who is struggling while yearning for some support yourself. But we don’t talk about or respond to mental illness in the same way we do with other health issues.
Some of you may be aware that I had some health concerns of my own last year when I was diagnosed with cancer.
Shortly after my diagnosis, family and close friends jumped into action. They made sure my family was tended to-our fridge and freezer were always full. People I had not heard from in years reached out with offers of help and words of encouragement. Friends of my siblings (I have six, by the way) organized charity events in my name. I drew strength and hope from this new and unexpected community of support.
During this time, my sibling with mental illness was also suffering. And yet, there is no cooler on their front porch to accept offerings of food. People are not sending flowers or offering to drive them to medical appointments.
Because of the stigma attached to mental illness, many people cope in isolation.
My hope is to see the day when a mental health diagnosis receives the same attention and respect as a cancer diagnosis. Just like cancer, people suffer through treatment, and people also die from mental illness.
There is more we can do-as family, as friends, as colleagues, and as employers.
Last October, Trucking HR Canada held its’ first symposium on workplace mental health. The event was part of an initiative to help trucking and logistics employers find the resources, tools and programs they need to develop a workplace culture that values mental health.
The fact that the symposium was packed with so many HR professionals from the industry, demonstrates what an important topic this is, and tells me we need to have more conversations about mental health in the workplace.
For people living with mental health issues, the response from friends, family, co-workers and sometimes even the support system that they turn to for help is more devastating than the illness itself.
We can do more to help. Our work continues in developing practical resources for employers. In the meantime, for those who missed it, we also have videos from our symposium that can help you get the conversation started in your workplace. Feel free to visit our website or YouTube channel to learn more.