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Nearly Half of Disability Claims by Federal Employees are for Mental Illness

March 4, 2023 from Western Standard


A department report found that mental illness accounts for nearly half of all disability claims by federal employees. This comes after an earlier study stated that employees are “drowning in a pool of repetitive, menial and uninspiring tasks,” according to Blacklock’s Reporter.


A report by the Department of Justice also stated that “mental illness is the number one and fastest growing cause of disability in Canada”, but it did not detail figures.


The Audit of the Health and Wellness Program referenced the World Health Organizations’ definition of psychological health as ‘a state of well-being in which the individual realizes their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to their community.’.


Employees seemed indifferent despite the justice department’s complaints that it adopted a Mental Health Action Plan, as well as appointed “mental health ambassadors”. In 2018, attendance at training sessions was deemed not mandatory, resulting in manager participation.


Auditors commented on the limited employee participation stating that the department attempted to engage employees and encourage discussions on mental health. However, a limited amount of employees chose to partake in the department’s efforts.


A study by the Public Works department echoed these findings, saying that employees often complained about tedious work and demeaning supervisors. Employees found their work to be uninspiring, with little meaning and dignity. 11% of the workers surveyed stated that they felt harassed.


The Ombudsman wrote that these continued complaints arise frequently regarding disrespect and incivility in departments. He also wrote that these hurtful incidents can be destructive to the culture of an organization and to one’s mental health, only undermining the work that is done well.


The department also heard that leadership lack presence and “lacked presence and support; lacked clear, consistent and coherent guidance and communication; failed to address psychologically harmful conditions even after being reported; could be characterized by disrespectful or uncivil behaviour; exhibited mistrust in the professionalism of team members; and basically failed to ‘walk the talk’ on mental health in the workplace,”.