Disability, Mental Health, and the Canadian Public Service
Today the Ottawa Citizen featured a front-page article, “PS disability claims soaring”.
Its timely release dovetails nicely with our discussion in Overcoming the Stigma of Mental Illness in the Workplace, and also the issues discussed in a previous post that is still generating a lot of interest: Canada’s Public Service: A Career for the Net Generation?.
The Citizen article highlights the findings delivered in a report produced by the Public Service Alliance of Canada (PSAC). Of note is the increase in disability claims by federal public servants in 2010, with 3,874 public servants filing for disability last year, an increase of more than 16% over 2009 claims.
According to the report, 16 out of 1,000 servants claimed disability last year compared to 13.78 out of 1,000 in 2009. More shocking, the incidence rate is up 35% since 2000, and we now have 11,100 public servants collecting disability benefits.
Mental Health and Women Lead
Mental health conditions resulted in 47.3% of the approved claims in 2010 - depression and anxiety being the most common illnesses.
These numbers are the highest in the history of the disability plan.
Furthermore, women made 70.5% of the approved disability claims, even though they make up just over half of all federal public servants.
Time to Acknowledge the Challenges
The recent release of both the Conference Board of Canada Report on Building Mentally Healthy Workplaces and the PSAC Report as described in the Citizen highlights the urgent need to address the issue of mental health in the workplace.
The challenges associated with mental illness, a growing cadre of disabled workers, and a potentially toxic workplace are not trivial. And, against the backdrop of funding cuts and potential workforce reductions, these issues will only become more difficult for managers as they seek new efficiencies and process improvements as they are forced to do more with less.
What do you think?
If you haven’t already read the Ottawa Citizen article, we encourage you to do so and would love to hear your thoughts on these complex issues.
Do you feel that you, other managers, or your employees have been provided with the information, training and resources needed to successfully deal with mental health issues in the workplace? What do you think should be done to improve these alarming statistics?