Today, the Ottawa Citizen called Ottawa the ‘depression capital of Canada’. When I first saw this headline, I automatically assumed it meant economic depression. I immediately felt the whisperings of sweet nothings in my ear along the lines of leave Ottawa while you still can and go back to Montreal where the streets are paved with gold.
Upon reading it; however, I find that the article is of an entirely different nature. It speaks on the state of mental health in Ottawa’s federal workers. Most of the information within the article comes from Bill Wilkerson, “co-founder of the Global Business and Economic Roundtable on Addiction and Mental Health”.
Depression is the fastest-growing source of workplace disability in the public and private sectors and costs the economy about $51 billion a year. But few workplaces are hit as hard as the public service — especially among workers over 40 years old, in their prime working years.
What I want to know is what is it about the public sector that makes it such a hotbed for depression and mental illness? I feel as though there should there be a warning in the job description that says “working for the federal government may create feelings of ‘disillusionment, anxiety and distress’, causing mild to severe mental illness in some workers. Join at your own risk.”
According to Wilkerson,
For most of the past 10 years, the federal workplace has been a breeding ground for some of the most basic issues of how a workplace can produce mental health problems.
I can’t help thinking that when one signs up to work for the federal government one should expect the best in workplace conditions. Shouldn’t the government be making a serious commitment to the physical and mental well-being of its workers? Happy workers equals higher productivity, am I right? It’s only logical to me. But don’t worry, I know I’m just a dreamer, this article wasn’t a huge shock to me. Living with a federal worker this summer has quickly taught me that logic and reason are the last things you should expect from them. Looks like another one of my idealistic happy bubbles has been burst, leaving behind only the residue of cynicism.
- Royal Ottawa Foundation for Mental Health
- Depression in the workplace: don’t ask, don’t tell? (cnn.com)