Work Stress Primary Cause of Mental Health Issues

As we go through life entering new jobs and careers, something that is consistent is stress. Whether you’re 16 and starting your first summer job or you’re in the last years before you enter retirement – we all feel stress at work.

But too much stress can have a huge impact.

new Canadian study found that for the majority of respondents’ workplace stress was the primary cause of their mental health problem or illness. The top two issues were reported to be depression and anxiety.

These findings are shocking and hard to ignore.

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They mean that a huge portion of the population is affected by these mental heal issues due to work stress. Out of the population of around 17 million Canadians who work full or part-time, about 3.4 million workers could be experiencing a mental health issue.

We know there is an issue but how are workers dealing with it?

The majority of respondents felt that their mental health issues would hurt their careers and that they could only put in an ‘optimal performance’ at work for less than 70 per cent of the day. It was also the main reason they were missing work, with 34 per cent missing work for two months or more.

This is costing employers, the economy and workers. It’s time to find solutions and start a conversation about mental health support at work.

Teamsters 362 has been fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental health with two major initiatives – Make it Mandatory and You Are Not Alone.

Make it Mandatory was created after tragedy struck some of our members in 2012. Travis Baumgartner fatally shot three of his coworkers, Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski, a fourth, Matthew Schuman, rushed to hospital with a gunshot wound.

We wanted to do more to bring attention to mental health support in the workplace after this incident and encourage the government to make it mandatory.

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You Are Not Alone is a docuseries that was created when we saw rising suicide rates in Alberta.

Our eight-part docuseries travelled around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness.

We have also negotiated mental health support into collective bargaining agreements, something that we will continue to do moving forward.

Mental health support in the workplace is clearly needed, and as Canadians, we need to do more.


Suicide And The Workplace: What You Need To Know

Over the last few weeks, the crisis of suicide has once again come to the forefront. People around the world were devastated to hear of the news of both designer Kate Spade and chef and author Anthony Bourdain dying by suicide.

It left many people confused, angry and wondering just how anyone could do that – especially people so loved and appreciated.

But suicide doesn’t discriminate. It is a global crisis.

Every year nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide and we do not have a national strategy in place to deal with it.

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One important place to start with prevention is in the workplace. It is where we spend a huge portion of our lives and interact with others on a daily basis.

Warning Signs in the Workplace:

  • A co-worker who has been acting depressed in the workplace that now seems to be very happy
  • Someone who is acting more aggressive or stressed out than usual and you notice them lashing out at people
  • They comment about always being tired and you notice that they are more fatigued than usual
  • They make comments about being a burden to others and suggest that the world would be better off without them there
  • They don't show up for work as often or they are absent for periods of time
  • They are not being as productive as usual or seem very un-motivated (presenteeism)

So, what exactly do you do if you see these warning signs?

The Centre for Suicide Prevention recommends telling your coworker that you have noticed changes in their behaviour and that you are concerned about them. You should also directly ask them if they have been having thoughts of suicide and have resources ready to provide them with so they can get help.

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The more we address suicide in the workplace, the more we can reduce the stigma. No one should have to feel alone and that their only option is to die by suicide.

For more information and resources be sure to visit the Centre for Suicide Prevention’s website.  If it is a crisis and you need to talk to someone right away phone 1-833-456-4566.


World Suicide Prevention Day

https://youtu.be/--iRGWe0pWU
This Sep 10 marks World Suicide Prevention Day with the theme of ‘Taking a minute can change a life’, and with suicide this is absolutely true. Reaching out to and offering help to someone who is suicidal can save a life

Teamsters Local 362 has worked hard to raise awareness about mental health issues and almost exactly a year ago we launched You Are Not Alone – a suicide prevention initiative.

In Alberta, we currently have the second highest rate of suicide in the country and we decided that we didn’t want people continue to suffer in silence.

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Following the momentum of our previous mental health initiative, Make It Mandatory, we started the campaign with the aim of raising awareness and preventing suicide in Alberta, and across the country.

Our eight-part docuseries traveled around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness.

Our series also looked at the state of mental health in the province in the wake of the fires in Fort McMurray and the troubling times in our economy. We examined what resources are needed and where.

You can still make a difference. By sharing the videos and reaching out to leaders and policy makers, you can send a message – we need more funding towards suicide prevention and mental health support in our province. The time for change is now.

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Fast Facts About Suicide:

Men die by suicide at a rate four times higher than that of women.

Women make 3 to 4 times more suicide attempts than men do, and women are hospitalized in general hospitals for attempted suicide at 1.5 times the rate of men.

It is estimated that the indirect cost of suicides in Alberta was $811 million

For every 1% increase in unemployment there is a 0.79% increase in the suicide rate

(http://toronto.cmha.ca/mental_health/suicide-statistics/#.WbCUd5OGP3Q)

(https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resource/workplace-suicide-prevention/)

For more information on resources visit our resource page.

 


Five Years After the Hub Mall Tragedy

Five years ago tragedy struck our local union and G4S at the University of Alberta’s HUB Mall. On June 15, 2012 Travis Baumgartner fatally shot three of his coworkers Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski. He also shot Matthew Schuman, rushed to hospital with a gunshot wound to the head.

Family, friends and our members were absolutely devastated. The impact of the shootings had an overwhelming effect on the mental health of those involved.

Now five years later, our local has worked tirelessly with advocates, members, family and friends of those effected of by the tragedy to create major change when it comes to mental health support in the workplace.

“What is unreal is that so many unions and agencies are all bringing mental health awareness and policies to the workplace. To think back five years ago, no one was doing this,” explained Teamsters Secretary - Treasurer & Principal Officer Rick Eichel. “When we sat down after raising money and said ‘how can we have a greater impact?’, I am happy to see all the work going on with this issue.”

Teamsters Local 362 initially wanted to know what could be done to prevent something like this from happening again. The problem was clear – there was not enough mental health support in the workplace for Canadians.

Not everyone with mental health issues is violent, but one in five Canadians experience mental health issues in their lives. What is troubling is that despite the significant number of people experiencing mental health issues, there is still stigma surrounding talking about it or seeking support at work.

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In 2014 we launched the Make It Mandatory campaign that consisted of an eight-part docuseries on the topic of mental health in the workplace. Participating in the videos were Eddie’s family and Brian’s parents.

These videos led back to an ‘action engine’ where people were could easily tweet and email politicians and influencers to make mental health support mandatory across Canada.

The Ilesic family also invited us to attend the Victims of Homicide conference in 2015 and we were then honoured to be invited to attend again this year by the Ilesic family.

The campaign was a huge success and the Teamsters Canada Youth Committee eventually took the project on as well with our own Business Agent Jordan Madarash. They made another eight-part docuseries featuring interviews with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, several MLA’s, Brian Burke and Sheldon Kennedy.

Overall, our videos reached over 3 million people across Canada and received over 1 million video views.

This past year we also continued to advocate for mental health support with our campaign You Are Not Alone, a docuseries that was created when we saw rising suicide rates in Alberta.

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Our eight-part docuseries traveled around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness. It also took a special focus on mental health in Fort McMurray after the fires.

One of the most important things that has come out of the campaigns is that we have been able to negotiate mental health support into collective bargaining agreements.

Teamsters Local 362 has partnered with the Canadian Mental Health Association and is bargaining language into collective agreements requiring employers to participate in the "Safe and Sound" course during the term of the agreement. This is a course specifically designed to address the stigma of mental health related issues in the workplace. Our long term goal is to bargain this language into all of the locals agreements.

Five years after this tragedy, we have come a long way in terms of mental health support in the workplace but unfortunately there is still work to be done. People are still suffering in silence and are afraid of the stigma associated with coming out as suffering from a mental health issue.

No one should have to struggle alone, and our local union will continue to fight for mental health support for all Canadians.

 


Suicide Prevention and Awareness is Needed in The Workplace

Talking about suicide is still a taboo in our society, and that is especially true in the workplace. But every year nearly 4,000 Canadians die by suicide and we do not have a national strategy in place to deal with it.

Some professions are more prone to having those who work in it suffer from mental health issues such as PTSD, anxiety and depression. If left untreated, sometimes these issues can lead to suicide.

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The Centre for Suicide Prevention recently put together a toolkit for dealing with suicide and suicide prevention in the workplace. Here are some of the highlights from the toolkit, which you can find here.

Cost to Canada

The estimated direct and indirect cost of suicides in Alberta in 2015 was $811 million and the average cost of one suicide is just over $1,700. Overall business lose around $6 billion dollars a year in lost productivity due to mental health.

Warning Signs

People spend a large portion of their daily lives at work, and it is important to know the warning signs. These signs can include being absent from work, being un-motivated, commenting about being a burden or talking about wanting to die.

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Prevention at Work

In the workplace it is important to have prevention measures in place for employees such as access to mental health services, suicide prevention training and creating a culture where reaching out for help is not stigmatized.

For more information on suicide prevention and awareness visit www.suicideinfo.ca or call 403-245-3900.


Robb Nash Spreading Message of Hope Through Music

Robb Nash may look like your typical rock musician, with guitar in hand and tattoos covering his arms.

But that guitar is used to write songs of hope for young people across Canada and the tattoos are made up of more than 100 signatures from suicide notes of young people who have attended his concerts.

"I know what that feels like, you feel alone … I want to show them, you're not alone. These are all people who have had those thoughts, and they're still here, and they're conquering the world around them," Nash said in an interview with CBC News.

When Nash was just 17 he was in a serious car crash, where he almost died. He had a difficult recovery struggling with depression and now uses music to share a message of inspiration when facing tough topics such as suicide, addiction and bullying.

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According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, youth are among the highest risk populations for suicide. It accounts for 24 per cent of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16 per cent among 16-44 year olds and is the second leading cause of death for Canadians between the ages of 10 and 24.

Suicide can also be even more prevalent in vulnerable communities. LGBTQ youth are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual peers and suicides among First Nations youth (aged 15 to 24) was about five to six times higher than non-aboriginal youth in Canada.

Nash takes the time to reach out to these vulnerable populations, most recently visiting Pimicikamak, also known as Cross Lake First Nation, where a state of emergency was declared last year because of an outbreak of suicides.

Teamsters 362 started an initiative last year called You Are Not Alone, with the goal of raising awareness and reducing stigma surrounding suicide in Canada.

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In Alberta, we currently have the second highest rate of suicide in the country. Our eight-part docuseries travels around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness.

It also looks at the state of mental health in the province in the wake of the fires in Fort McMurray and the troubling times in our economy. We examine what resources are needed and where.

Teamsters 362 first saw Nash at a CMHA event and we were so impressed by his powerful performance. After seeing him live, we sponsored two more performances, as we strongly believe in Nash's power to change lives. Nash operates on fundraising and for more information on his project and how you can help visit https://www.robbnash.com/.

No one should have to suffer in silence, and with more people like Nash, Canada will be able to openly talk about suicide and create change.


Mobbing: One of the Worst Kinds of Workplace Bullying

Workplace bullying is a major issue in workplaces across Canada and can take many different forms. One of the ones that is the hardest to deal with is what is known as ‘mobbing’.

Mobbing is when a worker enlists co-workers to ‘collude in a relentless campaignof psychological terror against a hapless target.’

According to psychologists, the target of the bullying is typically someone who is different from the rest of the group and tend to be women or racialized workers. They also pointed that 30 per cent of all workplace bullying is mobbing, and the trend is growing.

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They said that workplaces that are organized by bureaucracy or hierarchy are the most susceptible to this type of bullying.

In Alberta, Alberta Occupational Health and Safety (OHS) has taken notice of workplace bullying and have talked of implementing workplace harassment policies into an update of its code.

If you are experiencing mobbing or bullying at work it is important to document everything that is happening – keep a journal, keep emails and text messages.

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Make sure you have mental health support to deal with the bullying. Whether it is by a single person or a group, dealing with bullying can have a huge toll on your mental well-being.

Another option is to contact your trade union about the bullying behaviour – reaching out to a shop steward, business agent or any member you feel comfortable sharing the issue with. If you are not yet a part of a union, calling them and finding out what your rights are is also an action you could take.

Trade unions are there to stand up for all of your rights as a worker and ensure that you are working in a safe and healthy work environment –  that definitely includes workplace harassment.

 

 

 


PTSD Needs to be Taken Seriously in the Workplace

Workplace mental health is beginning to get the attention it deserves, but one area that we still need to work on is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

Evidence of this can be found in one of Canada’s own RCMP. The Auditor General will be releasing a report this Tuesday on mental health concerns for the RCMP, and one of the biggest concerns excepted to be discussed is the PTSD officers experience from the traumatic events they deal with.

According to the PTSD Association of Canada, PTSD is ‘a lasting consequence of traumatic ordeals that cause intense fear, helplessness or horror, such as a sexual or physical assault, the unexpected death of a loved one, an accident, war, or natural disaster and more.’

The Globe and Mail reported that the RCMP has been drastically overhauling it’s mental health strategy since 2013 and is working on training all staff on mental health services by 2018. But people still fall through the cracks.

And the RCMP are not alone. A recent investigation by CBC News found that Data ‘one in 20 employees at federal prisons have been diagnosed with PTSD or other stress injuries since 2011.’

Jeff Wilkins, Atlantic president of the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers, also pointed out that many suffer in silence, so the numbers are probably quiet higher.

But Provinces have been making strides. Last year Manitoba recognized PTSD as a work-related disease, marking the first time that PTSD has been included as an occupational disease by a Workers Compensation Board in Canada.

Alberta already has legislation in place, which allows first responders to receive compensation for PTSD without having to prove their condition is work-related and was the first province in Canada to provide that type of coverage.

Teamsters 362’s mental health awareness campaign Make it Mandatory also explored this issue and called for mandatory mental health support in all workplaces in Canada.

It’s clear that more needs to be done when it comes to this mental health issue in workplaces and beyond.


Getting Loud for Mental Health Week

This week marks the 66th annual Canadian Mental Health Association Mental Health Week. This week is meant to encourage people to ‘learn, talk, reflect and engage with others on all issues relating to mental health.’

This year they are asking people to #GETLOUD for mental health. They are asking Canadians writing their MPs, speaking out on social media, and donating our time and money, all in the name of getting loud for mental health.

Mental Health issues cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion each year and more than one in four Canadians are at high risk for mental health issues.

But some people are at more risk than others according to a new Ipsos report.

They found that millennials, women and people with low incomes are the most susceptible. They also found that based on Canadians levels of stress and depression 41 per cent of Canadians are at high risk for mental illness, up from 35 per cent last year.

The study found that 63 per cent of millennials were in the high-risk category, compared with 41 per cent of Gen X and 24 per cent of Baby Boomers. Forty-seven per cent of women were at high risk, compared to 36 per cent of men. Nearly 50 per cent of those earning less than $40,000 a year were at high-risk.

The regional breakdown put B.C. as number one for residents falling into the high-risk category, followed by Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

Teamsters 362 has been fighting to end the stigma surrounding mental health with two major initiatives – Make it Mandatory and You Are Not Alone.

Make it Mandatory was created after tragedy struck some of our members in 2012. Travis Baumgartner fatally shot three of his coworkers, Eddie Rejano, Brian Ilesic and Michelle Shegelski, a fourth, Matthew Schuman, rushed to hospital with a gunshot wound.

We wanted to do more to bring attention to mental health support in the workplace after this incident and encourage the government to make mental health support in the workplace mandatory.

You Are Not Alone was a docuseries that was created when we saw rising suicide rates in Alberta.

Our eight-part docuseries travelled around Alberta to hear from those who have been directly affected by suicide and advocates who are speaking out and trying to raise awareness.

We have also negotiated mental health support into collective bargaining agreements.

Ending the stigma surrounding mental health and suicide is so important for all Canadians, so make sure you take the time to #GETLOUD this week.

 


Fort McMurray: One Year Later

This week marks one year since the fires that devastated Fort McMurray. It was one of the worst disasters in Alberta’s history that saw the entire population, nearly 90,000 people, being evacuated in just a few hours.

Many headed out to oilsands operations north of Fort McMurray and the Fort McKay First Nation where they opened spaces for people to stay, while others headed south to Anzac and Lac La Biche. There are around 20 000 people expected to arrive in Edmonton.

Almost 2,500 buildings (mostly residential homes) were lost in the fire, but Fort McMurray fire chief Darby Allen said that, “85 per cent of the city is still intact.”

The city is still rebuilding over a year later. According to CBC, of the nearly 1,600 buildings that were destroyed development permits have been issued to rebuild just 645 of them.

A major concern has also been mental health and post-traumatic stress disorder of the residents. A study by the University of Alberta estimates that 12.8 per cent of the residents suffered PTSD six months after the fire.

We talked to residents of Fort McMurray about the issues they were facing in our mental health docu-series You Are Not Alone.

Teamsters 362 worked diligently to support evacuees during the fire and also those returning home when it was deemed safe. We set up a trust fund for the short and long-term aid of our membership and community, and worked  in conjunction with Teamsters Canada, the National Joint Council and other local unions.

We did everything we could to alleviate any financial stress for Teamsters members either unable to work, or who were working sporadic hours during the fires. We instructed employers to not deduct and remit dues on their behalf for the month of May and June.

Workers who were unable to work due to the fires who were covered by our Teamster Health and Welfare plans. We also asked all Teamsters Canada executives for further assistance, so we could help each individual member affected by the wildfires in the future.

Teamsters Canada National Executive Board held a special meeting and committed to match all the donations collected from the four Joint Counsels in Canada as well as the Local Unions across the country. The total was donated to the Canadian Red Cross and the federal government has promised to match all the donations they receive.

We also divided up donations to various school lunch programs in the community and we purchased a side by side ATV for the local fire department.

We are proud to continue to support the Fort McMurray community who has proved that they are strong and resilient.