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Carreer Junction by Michele Majul-IbarraGlobal perception of mental health

by Michele Majul-Ibarra

For those of you who recall, World Mental Health Day was celebrated last October 10th. The day was first observed on October 10, 1992, started by the World Federation for Mental Health. World Mental Health Day is now an annual commemorative event across the globe. The event celebrates mental health awareness and aims to engage and challenge everyone to have discussions regarding mental health and the actions that need to be taken to tackle the crisis.

To do my own bit to participate in the awareness, I took the opportunity to attend a presentation hosted by the Conference Board of Canada on October 10, 2019. The presentation shared some insights from the 2019 Mental Health Workplace Study by Teladoc Health.

Teladoc Health deployed a study through Ipsos MORI across four countries with 1,000 people interviewed in United States, 1,000 participants in United Kingdom, 964 participants in Canada, and 930 participants in Australia. All participants were between the ages of 18 and 65 in full-time or part-time employment. There were a total of 3,894 participants interviewed.

I must say, much of the statistics shared in the presentation were quite concerning. Out of all the participants surveyed, a fairly large percentage of 18 to 25 year olds are impacted by mental health challenges like burnout, anxiety and absenteeism caused by mental and emotional stressors.

However, the most troubling finding is that one in three respondents who experienced a mental health challenge did not seek help. Why, you may ask? According to the study, respondents from around the world feel that stigma plays a significant part in whether they discuss their mental health needs in the workplace. The study reported that 82 per cent of employees diagnosed with a mental health issue did not confide in anyone at work regarding their concern.

While this number is quite disturbing, 50 per cent of the respondents feel that if their team leaders or managers are more open to discussing mental health in the workplace, they would feel more comfortable to talk about their own mental health. It appears that when the workplace is open to discussions, the stigma about mental health appears to diminish as well.

From a real-world standpoint, many people have mental health concerns from time to time, but those concerns may turn into a mental illness when signs and symptoms progress to a point where they affect a person’s ability to function. Some signs of mental un-wellness include: decline in personal hygiene; negative thoughts; low energy; withdrawal from people and activities; mood changes; and changes in behaviour, to name a few.

How can you help? In the workplace context, it is very important to listen and acknowledge the person confiding in you in order to remove some of the stigma around mental health. It takes a lot of courage for a person struggling with mental health concerns to come forward and tell someone what they are experiencing. In general, most employers offer an Employee Assistance Program and certainly that is something that employees should be encouraged to access when they are dealing with some type of a mental health concern.

While the numbers shared in the Teladoc study are unsettling, it is eye opening to learn that mental health is a global concern with real obstacles that teach us to be more willing to talk about it to help break the stigma around the issue.


  • – Tacking a Global Mental Health Crisis in the Workplace

This article is intended for information purposes only and not to be considered as professional advice.

Michele Majul-Ibarra, IPMA-ACP holds an Advanced Certified HR Professional Designation with the International Personnel Management Association. E-mail her at

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