Canada’s unions call for mental health supports for all

October 1, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people across Canada. It is important to recognize the negative impact, and reflect on the stigma still associated with mental illness in our workplaces and communities.

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), this week from October 4 to 10, is part of a national public education campaign in Canada to educate communities and organizations about mental illness.

“This is an important opportunity to reflect on the barriers faced by people living with mental illness in their workplace and in their communities,” said Larry Rousseau, Executive Vice-President of the Canadian Labour Congress. “Canada’s path to economic recovery needs to focus on the well-being of workers and their families.”

According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s most recent policy advice on COVID-19 and mental health in Canada, “50 percent of Canadians [have] reported worsening mental health since the pandemic began” and “in a survey of Canadian workers, 81 per cent reported that the pandemic is negatively impacting their mental health.”

Participants in these studies outlined increased stress due to high levels of anxiety related to fears about the future, their loved ones, employment outcomes and the overall negative impact of social isolation on mental health.

“We need federal leadership that commits to learning from this crisis, and develops a recovery plan that centres the needs of the most marginalized, and that includes ensuring better mental health support and access to universal, single-payer pharmacare for all,” said Rousseau. “That’s why the campaign we launched on Labour Day demands a recovery that strengthens our public health care system.”

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