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Mental health issues take a toll on half of GTA workers — and employers, too

Written by May Warren
Published in Toronto Star 

For 10 years Adrian Lawford kept a secret from everyone at work.

The TD Bank employee has battled anxiety and depression for most of his life, but never told a soul at the office until one day when he sat his manager down to come out “from behind the mask.”

“It was a scary time,” he remembers.

“I didn’t know what kind of reaction I would I get; I didn’t know whether people would see me as being less able to handle stress or more important roles.”

A new report from CivicAction finds half of the workforce in the Greater Toronto Area and Hamilton area — more than 1.5 million people — have experienced a mental health issue, and it’s having a huge impact on companies’ bottom lines.

Mental health issues are expected to cost almost $17 billion in lost productivity over the next 10 years, and about 71 per cent of workers in the GTHA, like Lawford, are worried about the stigma that still surrounds mental health issues in the workplace.

Sevaun Palvetzian, CEO of CivicAction, said there hasn’t been the same kind of progress on eliminating stigma in the workplace as there has been in other places.

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