Charles Benayon

Founder & CEO of Aspiria


Mental Illness: Why We Can’t Just “Get Over It”

Employers cannot afford to pretend that mental health issues do not require as much or more support than physical ailments . While the impact of mental health issues on employee absenteeism and employer costs are significantly on the rise, employers still do not see that the benefit of providing adequate support to address mental health issues in the workplace far outweigh the cost of doing nothing.

As prevalent as mental health issues are in the workplace, and the crippling effect they can have on productivity, they are often not viewed with the same amount of credibility as physical ailments. Perhaps this is due to  the lack of visible symptoms of mental health issues,  or because mental health issues vary greatly from person-to-person, or the belief that with mental health, all the employee has to do is “get over it and get back to work”.  This is never more apparent than with the person suffering from depression. Whatever the reasons, there is great disparity between the way physical health is perceived and treated at the workplace, versus mental health.

Additionally, there seems to be a notable lack of consistency for accommodating employees upon returning to work after a leave of absence for mental health issues. Where companies might discuss the option of a 3-day week for someone with a challenging physical ailment, the same accommodations may not be made for those returning from absence due to mental health issues, where the issues should have been “cleared up” in the time off.

I’ve chosen to feature the graphic below in my blog this week to illustrate the lack of appreciation and empathy for mental health issues when compared to physical injuries. The graphic demonstrates how ludicrous it would be to expect those with physical ailments to “try harder”, “make an effort” or “get over it”, yet, this is what society comes to expect of those with mental health issues, due to of a lack of understanding or any visible evidence of hardship. What do you think of the suggestions made in the graphic?

mental illness

It will take many conversations and a drastic reframing of mental health to increase the support needed in the workplace for Canadians who suffer from poor mental health. So, let’s start talking about it – now! I look forward to your comments below.

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Change Your Habits and Stay Motivated in 2014

Snow-footprintsThe New Year brings the promise of renewed commitment to many life goals – if you take one look at your local gym, you’ll see the number of people newly committed to their health in 2014!

Whether your list of New Year’s resolutions includes improving your fitness, saving  money or quitting smoking, the focus  almost completely lies on achieving the end result.

However, if February rolls around and you haven’t lost your 10 pounds yet, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you haven’t achieved something along the way. Setting lofty expectations for yourself can be a good thing – for some people, it challenges and motivates them to achieve the next level of success. For others, however, expectations that border on the unrealistic can harm our sense of accomplishment and make us feel like we have failed somehow, particularly if we only concentrate on the end result.

This year, make goal-setting an enjoyable experience by challenging yourself while still being kind to yourself. Long-term change is only possible when you can keep yourself consistently motivated by your progress. Instead of vowing to lose 30 pounds this year, why not aim to incorporate positive habits into your routine, like working out 3 times a week and packing your lunch for work. These are choices and changes you can make daily that contribute to the sense of progress that keeps you motivated.

Recognize that it is the countless daily choices and habits that make up who we are, rather than impractical goals we set for ourselves. By concentrating on those small, everyday choices, we will slowly become better versions of ourselves.

What habits will you try to implement this year? Have you tried traditional goal-setting? What results have you seen? I look forward to your comments below!