Study: Mental Health Absences Cost Canada $51 Billion

AHN News Staff
Posted September 9, 2010,

Toronto, Ontario, Canada (AHN) – About 20 of 145 days of short-term leaves taken yearly by every 1,000 Canadian employees are related to mental health problems, according to a study released Wednesday by the Center for Addiction and Mental Health.

On a yearly basis, the cost to the Canadian economy of the absences reaches $51 billion, making this kind of leave the most costly disability for Canadian
firms. The amount is twice the cost of a leave for physical ailment.

Researchers from the center based their computation on leaves of almost 34,000 full time workers in Ontario. On a per employee basis, the cost is almost
$18,000.

Dr. Carolyn Dewa, head of CAMH’s Work and Well-Being Research and Evaluation Program, pushed for health and wellness interventions to keep workers healthy and cut costs at the same time. Dewa explained in a statement, “We know that mental health triggers in the workplace can lead to disability – things like stress, casual and part-time work, and uncertain economic conditions can really take a toll on workers – especially if there is a pre-existing mental health condition.”

Dewa added, “While it is important to support workers that are on disability leave, it is crucial that businesses make mental health and wellness a priority
to prevent disability in the first place.”

Experts estimate that about 10 percent of employed Canadians between the ages 18 to 54 years old suffer from mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder.

The study was published in the summer issue of the Journal of Environmental Medicine.

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