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Mental illness costs the Canada economy a lot

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Mental illness takes a heavy toll on people's lives. But it also imposes a high cost on the Canadian economy, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

"When workers have poor mental health, they have a lessened capacity to perform to their utmost," said Diana MacKay, who prepared the report. "Sometimes workers with mental illnesses drop out of the work force completely."

The report estimates that the loss of potential labour costs the Canadian economy $20-billion a year.

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Ms. MacKay noted that many people who suffer from mental illness have job skills that are in great demand. It's more cost-effective to keep them working, rather than recruit and train new employees, she added.

So, for employers, "there is a huge motivation" to make workplaces more accommodating for people with mental illnesses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, social phobia, panic disorder and acrophobia. "Even getting just some of that lost supply back in the supply chain of workers would be a big plus for the economy," she said.

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