Mental health has a big impact on the workplace. It can affect worker productivity, company profits and ultimately the country’s economy. Yet most employers do not have a mental-health strategy in place.

“Every day, Canadians struggle with mental health, whether it’s their own or that of a loved one, friend or colleague,” says Allison Cowan, Director of Workplace Health Research for the Conference Board of Canada. In a survey of Canadian employees, the Conference Board found that 44 per cent reported a mental health issue, one they were currently experiencing (12 per cent) or had previously experienced (32 per cent).

“It’s a growing concern for employers,” says Cowan. “Recent Conference Board research found that employers are anticipating increases in medical leaves due to mental health. Since the role that workplace stress plays in mental health is so significant, it’s important for employers to make mental health a priority and create a safe, supportive work environment.”

Mental health has a farther-reaching impact: Conference Board research suggests that improved treatment of depression could boost Canada’s economy by up to $32.3 billion a year; enhanced treatment of anxiety could boost the economy by up to $17.3 billion a year.