It’s in the news far too often. Some working person with PTSD has taken their life, and the family has decided to speak out.
Those stories are just the tip of the iceberg. We’ll never know how often it is just too painful for family to acknowledge what has happened.
And we’ll never know how many people continue their silent struggle with PTSD and with other serious work-related mental health injuries like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, and sleep and mood disorders.
On the job, working people cope with violence, threats, harassment, the death of people in their care, and a host of other things that take a toll on their mental health.
They all need and deserve support.
“I’ve watched people die.”
25.2% of firefighters have thought about or actually planned to take their own lives.
Legislation Needed Now
We need legislation that makes it easier for people in Newfoundland and Labrador with major workplace mental health injuries to access workers’ compensation and other supports. And we need it now.
29.1% of correctional officers have PTSD.
Lots of Benefits
What are the benefits of introducing workplace mental health legislation?
It reduces the stigma, so people actually seek help.
It encourages employers to take prevention seriously and to put programmes in place to help employees recover.
It cuts down on the number of sick days taken.
It improves productivity.
It takes some of the stress off the provincial health care system.
It reduces use of private health benefits paid for by employers and employees.
Our province one of the last
Newfoundland and Labrador is one of the last provinces to adopt legislation that makes it easier for people who suffer serious mental health injuries at work, like PTSD, to access workers’ compensation and other supports.
Other provinces give at least some working people who suffer serious mental health injuries the benefit of the doubt when it comes to accessing workers’ compensation, as long as they have a diagnosis from an appropriate health care professional. It’s called presumptive legislation, because it’s presumed the employee is telling the truth. That legislation is important because the last thing someone experiencing a serious workplace mental health injury needs is to have to fight for the resources they require to recover.
Some provinces limit their legislation to cover only PTSD. Some provinces limit their legislation to cover only certain occupations – usually first responders.
19.6% of provincial and municipal police officers have PTSD.
“I’ve been harassed.”
Every working person. Every serious mental health injury.
Yet research shows all occupations can suffer serious mental health injuries while on the job, and that there are many serious workplace mental health injuries besides PTSD – like depression, anxiety, panic disorder, sleep and mood disorders, etc.
And in fact, some of the occupations that suffer the highest rates of work-related mental health injuries aren’t first responders. Correctional officers are a case in point.
No uptick in claims
Provinces like Saskatchewan and Quebec, which have more liberal legislation, haven’t experienced a big uptick in workers’ compensation claims.
In Quebec, after decades of allowing chronic stress claims, the percentage of claims compensated for stress injuries in 2007 was only 1.1 percent of total claims.
In 2017, the year after Saskatchewan introduced its legislation, there was actually a slight decrease in the overall number of claims.
And research shows that employees with mental health injuries just want to get better and go back to work.
41.1% of Canadian paramedics have thought about or actually planned to take their own lives.
It’s only in the last few years that people have started to talk openly about mental health. And that needed to happen before we could tackle the issue of workplace mental health injuries.
Legislation for workplace mental health injuries isn’t just a union issue – it’s a fairness issue for all working people. As the largest union in the province, with more than twenty-six thousand members in the public and private sectors, NAPE is prepared to take the lead.
What’s the answer?
NAPE is calling on the provincial government to introduce legislation that covers all working people -union and non-union – regardless of occupation. And that covers all serious workplace mental health injuries – not just PTSD.
Read the Study
In order to ensure everyone has the information they need about workplace mental health legislation, NAPE commissioned a cross-Canada study on the topic carried out by Rosemary Ricciardelli, PhD, a prominent academic in the field, and Alan Hall, PhD. You can read the study here to learn more.
Workplace mental health legislation
It’s the smart thing to do.
It’s the fair thing to do.
And it’s the right thing to do.