Psychological health and safety statistics

Research data that shows how effective psychological health and safety is in the workplace. Statistics for the costs of absenteeism, disability and mental illness are also included.

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Psychological health and safety

Mental Health Research Canada provides an interactive online dashboard so you can explore the results of their 2023 survey of 5505 working Canadians using the Guarding Minds at Work assessment for psychological health and safety in the workplace.

The following statistics highlight the positive impact on organizations implementing the National Standard on Psychological Health and Safety (The Standard) compared to those who are not.

  • In organizations implementing the Standard, 5% of employees say their workplace is psychologically unhealthy, compared to 13% in organizations that are not implementing the Standard who say their workplace is psychologically unhealthy or unsafe (Ipsos Reid, 2017a).
  • At organizations that are implementing the Standard, employees who are or have experienced depression are missing less time (7.4 days per year) from work compared to those whose organization is not implementing the Standard (12.5 days) (Ipsos Reid, 2017a).
  • 26.3% of unionized and 23.2% of non-unionized respondents say their organization was actively involved in implementing the Standard or involved in ongoing efforts to maintain and improve key elements of the Standard (Ipsos Reid, 2017a).
  • There is a need for workplaces to invest in initiatives that promote positive workplace mental health to reduce psychological distress generally, as well as to protect employees from the negative impact of work stress (Page et al., 2014).

Management competence impacts employee mental health

  • Frequently cited factors deemed very or fairly stressful included frustration with poor management (54%) and not enough support from managers (47%) (Mind, 2014).
  • 43% of employees would like to receive more support from senior management and human resources (Mind, 2014).
  • 4 in 5 managers believe it is part of their job to intervene with an employee who is showing signs of depression. While 55% of managers reported intervening, only 1 in 3 report having had appropriate training to do so (Ipsos Reid, 2012).
  • 65% of managers say they could do their jobs more effectively if they found ways to more easily manage distressed employees (Ipsos Reid, 2012).
  • 63% of managers would like to receive better training to deal with this type of situation (Ipsos Reid, 2012).

Mental health is a workplace issue

  • The Mental Health Commission of Canada found that in any given week, 500,000 Canadians miss work due to a psychological health issue (Howatt et al., 2022).  
  • 70% of Canadian employees are concerned about the psychological health and safety of their workplace, and 14% don’t think their workplace is healthy or safe at all (Government of Canada, 2016). 
  • There is now consistent evidence that certain work situations, including occupational uncertainty and lack of value and respect in the workplace, are associated with an increased risk of common mental disorders (Harvey et al., 2017)
  • 47% of working Canadians agree that their work is the most stressful part of their day (Morneau Shepell, 2017).
  • 16% of working Canadians say their workplace is a frequent or ongoing source of feelings of depression, anxiety or other mental illness (Ipsos Reid, 2013).
  • 38.6% say they would not tell their current manager if they were experiencing a mental health problem (Dewa, 2014).
  • 82% of employees with mental health issues indicate it impacts their work, while only 53% of those with physical health issues say it impacts their work (Miller, 2006).
  • Numerous studies show that employees are more creative and able to achieve higher levels of job performance when they are in mentally healthy work environments (Lowe, 2014).

Mental illness affects many

  • 1 in 5 Canadians (7 million) will experience a mental illness annually (Smetanin et al., 2011), yet only half of those, 1 in 10 Canadians, use health services for mood and anxiety disorders each year (Mcrae et al., 2016).
  • Depression alone is now equal to high blood pressure in terms of the top issue physicians see in their practice (Morneau Sheppell, 2016).
    • The majority (63%) see depression, anxiety, and stress disorders as the fastest-growing issues over the past 3 years (Morneau Sheppell, 2016).
  • Most mental illnesses begin before adulthood and often continue through life. But there is good news – we can almost always improve mental health, which can lead to (The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 2010):
    • Increased productivity
    • Increased social functioning
    • Increased quality of life
    • Reduced health risk behaviour
    • Increased physical health
    • Increased life expectancy

Mental and physical health are linked

  • Direct associations have been found between perceived stress at work and cancer at 5 sites (lung, colon, rectum, stomach, and lymph tissue) (Blanc-Lapierre, 2017).
  • Long-term stress increases the risk of developing coronary heart disease by 150% (Steptoe & Kivimäki, 2013).
  • There is an association between a wide range of mental disorders and adult-onset asthma and stomach ulcers (Scott et al., 2013).
  • Obesity has been associated with ADHD and depression (Halfon, Larson & Slusser, 2013).
  • 50% of hospitalized heart patients have some depressive symptoms, and 25% develop major depression (Miller, 2006).
  • Patients with type 1 and 2 diabetes are twice more likely to experience depression than their peers (Anderson et al., 2001).
  • Research suggests that psychosocial factors play an important role in the development of hypertension (Schlomo, 2002).
  • 71% of adults reported at least one symptom of stress, such as a headache or feeling overwhelmed or anxious (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2019).

Absenteeism and disability costs

  • Psychological health problems and illnesses are the number one cause of disability in Canada (Government of Canada, 2016). 
    • About 30 percent of short- and long-term disability claims in Canada are attributed to mental health problems and illnesses (Howatt et al., 2022).
    • The cost to Canadian companies in lost productivity per year due to workers calling in sick as a result of mental health issues is estimated at $16.6 billion (Mercer, 2018).  
    • More than half of organizations that reported offering wellness plans and that have measured their impact reported a decrease in absenteeism and even greater percentages of financial sustainability, productivity and employee satisfaction (Government of Canada, 2016)
  • In a report from Dewa et al (2009), Ontario employees who received appropriate care had fewer short-term disability days.
    • For every 100 individuals this translated into $50,000 in disability benefit savings (roughly $500 per person) (Dewa et al., 2009).
    • The costs for providing reasonable mental health-related accommodations are often fairly inexpensive, with most under $500 per person (Job Accommodation Network, 2013)).
  • Depression and anxiety are only two of many mental health conditions and they alone cost the Canadian economy an estimated $49.6 billion per year (Conference Board of Canada, 2016).
  • 40% of Canadians report that their mental health has disrupted their lives (Ipsos Reid, 2017b).
  • 17% of Canadians report that they have taken time away from work and school to deal with a personal mental health issue (Ipsos Reid, 2017b).
  • 8% of Canadians report that they have taken time away from work to help a family member or close friend with their mental illness (Ipsos Reid, 2017b).

Additional resources

Evidence for psychological health and safety. A literature review of studies demonstrating how factors that impact psychological health and safety also have a positive impact on business goals and objectives.

Is your organization at risk for burnout? | PDF. A tool to help assess your organization’s response to work-related stress. 

Psychological health and safety cost benefits. Support psychological health and safety at work by establishing costs and learning about legal trends. Also consider the cost of doing nothing.

Where do we start with psychological health and safety? Not sure where to begin in addressing psychological health and safety in your workplace? We can help. You will find steps to get buy-in, communicate the plan and support continual improvement.


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  2. Ben-Shlomo, Y. (2002). A life course approach to chronic disease epidemiology: Conceptual Models, empirical challenges and interdisciplinary perspectives. International Journal of Epidemiology, 31(2), 285–293. 
  3. Blanc-Lapierre, A., Rousseau, M.-C., Weiss, D., El-Zein, M., Siemiatycki, J., & Parent, M.-É. (2017). Lifetime report of perceived stress at work and cancer among men: A case-control study in Montreal, Canada. Preventive Medicine, 96, 28–35. 
  4. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2019, April 10). Mental health in the Workplace. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  5. Conference Board of Canada. (2016, December 22). Unmet mental health care needs costing Canadian economy billions. Cision Canada. 
  6. Dewa, C S. (2014). Worker attitudes towards mental health problems and disclosure. The International Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 5(4), 175.
  7. Dewa, C S, Hoch, J. S., Carmen, G., Guscott, R., & Anderson, C. (2009). Cost, effectiveness, and cost-effectiveness of a collaborative mental health care program for people receiving short-term disability benefits for psychiatric disorders. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 54(6), 379–388. 
  8. The Government of Canada. (2016, July 14). Psychological Health in the Workplace. Government of Canada. 
  9. Halfon, N., Larson, K., & Slusser, W. (2013). Associations between obesity and Comorbid Mental Health, developmental, and physical health conditions in a nationally representative sample of US children aged 10 to 17. Academic Pediatrics, 13(1), 6–13. 
  10. Harvey, S. B., Modini, M., Joyce, S., Milligan-Saville, J. S., Tan, L., Mykletun, A., Bryant, R. A., Christensen, H., & Mitchell, P. B. (2017). Can work make you mentally ill? A systematic meta-review of work-related risk factors for common mental health problems. Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 74(4), 301–310. 
  11. Howatt, B., Bradley, L., Adams, J., Mahajan, S., & Kennedy, S. (2022). Understanding mental health, mental illness, and their impacts in the workplace. Mental Health Commission of Canada. 
  12. Ipsos Reid. (2012, August). Great West Life Centre of Mental Health in the Workplace Mental Health in the Workplace Research.
  13. Ipsos Reid. (2013, May 9). Two in Ten (16%) Working Canadians Say Their Place of Work is Frequently the Source of Feelings of Depression, Anxiety or Other Mental Illness. Ipsos Reid. 
  14. Ipsos Reid. (2017a, February 3). Workplaces that are Implementing the National Standard of Canada for Psychological Health and Safety in the Workplace Described by Employees as Psychologically-Safer Environments. Ipsos Reid. 
  15. Ipsos Reid. (2017b, April 27). Public perspectives: Ipsos’ 3rd annual Canadian Mental Health Check up. Ipsos Reid.
  16. Job Accommodation Network. (2013). Workplace Accommodations: Low Cost, High Impact. 
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  19. Mercer. (2018). How much are you losing to absenteeism?
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  22. Morneau Shepell. (2016). Workplace Mental Health Priorities: 2016.
  23. Morneau Shepell. (2017). Morneau Shepell Finds Organizational Change Linked to Physical and Mental Health Sick Leave.
  24. Page, K. M., Milner, A. J., Martin, A., Turrell, G., Giles-Corti, B., & LaMontagne, A. D. (2014). Workplace stress. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, 56(8), 814–819. 
  25. Royal College of Psychiatrists. (2010, October). No health without public mental health: The case for action. 
  26. Scott, K. M., Alonso, J., de Jonge, P., Viana, M. C., Liu, Z., O’Neill, S., Aguilar-Gaxiola, S., Bruffaerts, R., Caldas-de-Almeida, J. M., Stein, D. J., Angermeyer, M., Benjet, C., de Girolamo, G., Firuleasa, I.-L., Hu, C., Kiejna, A., Kovess-Masfety, V., Levinson, D., Nakane, Y., … Kessler, R. C. (2013). Associations between DSM-IV mental disorders and onset of self-reported peptic ulcer in the World Mental Health Surveys. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 75(2), 121–127. 
  27. Smetanin, Paul & Stiff, David & Briante, Carla & Adair, Carol & Ahmad, & Khan,. (2011). The Life and Economic Impact of Major Mental Illnesses in Canada. Report commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada 2011.
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