One Mind Initiative at Work believes that the next business innovation isn’t going to start with a piece of code or a new product, but rather, with how leaders approach mental health in the workplace.

The One Mind Initiative at Work team isn’t the only one shining a light on the impact of mental health in the workplace. At the Milan Health Ministers Meeting in November, the G7 health ministers, who represent the world’s largest developed economies, took a step forward and committed to fueling economic growth by improving the health of their citizens. Not only that – the G7 health ministers chose to focus on a major healthcare cost that drives economic productivity: unaddressed mental health conditions.

In 2013, mental health challenges accounted for a $2.5 trillion productivity loss globally, yet it fails to hold national and international prominence. Canada is a perfect example of a nation severely impacted by mental health in the workplace. Roughly 30% of Canada’s disability claims, and 70% of all disability costs, are due to mental health conditions, making it the largest and fastest-growing category of disability costs in the country. Despite the mounting evidence and the growing expense, mental illness still does not hold the same level of recognition as a health crisis affecting millions like other highly-publicized physical conditions, such as cancer and heart disease. Mental health providers continue to be less accessible than other medical providers for many, or result in high out-of-pocket costs. Data from Milliman shows disparities in payment rates and access to mental health care under private health insurance plans are common across the U.S., and similar challenges are evidently elsewhere in the G7 countries. It’s clear that the differences in the delivery of services that address mental health conditions compared those of physical health are significant.

Looking back on the past decade, Canada has demonstrated key leadership, globally. And now, looking forward to its G7 Presidency in 2018, it has a critical role to play in the global effort to improve health – and wealth – around the world. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is a long-standing champion of mental health and, although mental health has not been identified as one of the five official themes of Canada’s G7 Presidency, it fits well into the narrative of one of the chosen themes: preparing for jobs of the future. While preparing for jobs of the future, it is imperative that we prepare a workplace of the future that supports employees to their full potential. In doing so, we can – and must – do better for people with mental health challenges. One-third of adult lives are spent at work and one in five people will experience a mental health challenge in their career. Investing time and resources into mental health is a critical element of a comprehensive employee well-being plan and must be addressed as we prepare for jobs of the future. A culture of effective mental health support can reduce absenteeism and presenteeism, increase productivity and employee retention, and reduce total medical costs – lifting the global economy while supporting millions of people experiencing mental health challenges in the workforce and those preparing to enter it.

Prime Minister Trudeau has an opportunity to unify global stakeholders in a shared commitment to turn the conversation toward workplace mental health, driving the global economy forward faster and laying the foundation for sustainable, inclusive growth and a healthier, more just society. We urge Prime Minister Trudeau, supported by the rest of the G7 to leverage the position as an effective vehicle for confronting society’s most pressing health challenges and turn attention to the impact of mental health.

Our 2018 year-end goal is to build a network of
1,000,000 employees supported by One Mind Initiative at Work’s pillars of
success guidelines for employers. We are already making a mark for the G-7 and
invite you to take part in the movement for mental health. We collectively have
the power to make a positive impact – so let’s make it happen. Please join us
to expand our ranks and allow us to speak with an even loader voice on behalf
of all who suffer from a brain disease because there is no health without mental