Every October 10, people around the world observe World Mental Health Day to raise awareness of the stigmas surrounding mental illness and the importance of promoting mental health. With new challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic, and an increased need for mental health services as people grapple with the coronavirus crisis, this year’s World Mental Health Day seeks to promote greater awareness of and investment in mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is one of the most neglected areas of public health. Globally, close to 1 billion people are living with a mental illness. And now, billions of people around the world have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, which is having a further impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
Clearly, then, a focus on mental health is needed now more than ever, and it is also important for us to recognize that workplace health and safety includes mental health. Given that, on any given week, 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental illnesses, it is vital for employers to provide support to workers who are experiencing a mental illness, and to work with employees and their union to develop an effective workplace mental health strategy.
Indeed, our union believes that mental health promotion belongs to all of us, because no one is immune to mental illness, regardless of your occupation, gender, ethnicity, or any other marker of your identity. That is why, in support of World Mental Health Day 2020, UFCW Canada has launched a new Mental Health Resources webpage featuring tools that can help with addressing mental health issues at work.
UFCW is also encouraging activists and allies to help raise awareness of the need for mental health supports and investment and robust workplace mental health strategies by talking to your friends, family, colleagues, and social networks about these critical issues.
Your mental health starts with you, and it is just as important as any other health-related matter in life. Take care of your own health to support those around you. And remember that workplace health and safety always includes mental health.
Paul R. Meinema