10 May 2022 – For Immediate Release
FREDERICTON, NB – On 18 May 2022, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce’s annual “Mental Health Matters” event is returning after a two-year pandemic-related hiatus. The chamber began hosting the event in 2016 as a celebration and recognition the life of former chamber intern, Kasey Atwin, who passed away the previous year as a result of mental health struggles.
“Kasey’s passing was a wake-up call for our organization regarding actively maintaining good mental health,” said Fredericton Chamber of Commerce CEO Krista Ross. “I think awareness of recognizing mental illness and increasing personal resilience has grown substantially since that time and I would encourage all businesses and employers to be proactive with their employees mental health.”
The event has been sponsored by Wilson Insurance since its inception and this year, Scott’s Nursery is the Donation Sponsor. The half-day event will feature the following speakers:
- Christy Bitcon, LuminUltra
- Matt MacLean, UNB
- Leentje Deleuil, Family Enrichment & Counselling Services
- Alyssa Boudreau, Family Enrichment & Counselling Services
The effects of mental illness on business and the economy are staggering. According to the Canadian Centre for Addiction and Mental Health1:
- Every week at least 500,000 Canadians miss work due to mental illness
- The economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated to be approximately $51 billion each year, with $6.3 billion resulting from lost productivity
- By 2041, it is estimated that the cumulative cost of poor mental health to the Canadian economy will exceed $2.5 trillion
“Making mental wellness a core business principle isn’t hard – but it does require a shift in communication and expectation,” Ross added. “Fortunately, there are guidelines like the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s (MHCC) National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace (the Standard).”
The pandemic has further eroded mental health across the country. According to Statistics Canada2:
- One in four (25%) Canadians aged 18 and older screened positive for symptoms of depression, anxiety or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in spring 2021, up from one in five (21%) in fall 2020
- In spring 2021, the proportion of Canadians who experienced at least one of these negative impacts due to COVID-19 was 83% for those aged 18 to 24, 80% for those aged 25 to 44, 70% for those aged 45 to 64, and 54% for those aged 65 and older. This pattern was similar to that of fall 2020
- Among Canadians who screened positive for at least one of the three mental health disorders assessed in this survey, 94% reported experiencing one or more impacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic
“It’s no secret that the pandemic has made mental health worse on a large scale and we can’t expect to organically return to pre-pandemic levels instantly as we return to some normalcy this spring and summer – nor should we want to, we have aim much higher than that,” said Ross. “This will take intentional action on behalf of employers, employees and government.”
In 2021, the Fredericton chamber co-sponsored a successful policy resolution at the Canadian Chamber of Commerce titled “Addressing Workplace Mental Health” that calls on the federal government to:
- Work with provinces and territories, municipalities, First Nations, business, labour, academia, health care leaders and individual citizens to update a national strategy on mental health including best practices of current programs in an effort to improve the management of mental health in the workplace. This would include collection of pan- Canadian and international statistics to compare benchmarks, proven examples of prevention, early action to combat stress and early identification of problems focused on increasing worker productivity, along with support for entrepreneurs and employees while highlighting the impact of mental Illness on the economy.
- Ensure funding committed to health in federal budgets continue to provide dedicated amounts for provincial/territorial plans to address mental health challenges within their health care systems.
- Review government benefits compensation programs for individuals with mental health issues to ensure they are relevant to today’s needs and do not disproportionately place the cost burden on employers.
The Fredericton Chambers Mental Health Matters event is scheduled for 18 May 2022 from 8:30 to 11:30 at the Crowne Plaza Fredericton. Registration information can be found on our website here. We encourage all chamber members to send some or all of their staff to this free event and see why Good Mental Health is Good Business.
The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, a nationally accredited organization with more than 1,000 members, is an active business organization engaged in policy development and advocacy that affects the competitiveness of our members and the Canadian business environment. The Chamber’s vision is ‘Community Prosperity Through Business’. Contact: Krista Ross, CEO – (506) 458-8006