OPSEU is encouraging all of its members to mark Mental Health Week on their calendars. This is an important week for all Canadians, not just those suffering mental health issues. It is also an opportunity to educate ourselves about how our mental health impacts our overall health.
"There is no health without mental health,” said Ed Arvelin, chair of OPSEU’s Mental Health Division. “Without mental health, all physical aspects of your well-being deteriorate. When you are depressed, stressed, or full of anxiety you are not able to do the things required to feel your best, physically. That’s why health care should always begin with a focus on mental health.”
OPSEU has always been on the forefront of promoting mental health policies in the workplace and advocating for the rights of mental health professionals. The union represents around 8,000 mental health workers in Ontario.
We are continuing our tradition of raising awareness about the struggles of our mental health professionals with the release of a series of new videos. The videos put a human face to the issues frontline mental health workers encounter on a day-to-day basis. We will release a new video every day this week. Click here to watch the series.
Although OPSEU strongly supported the passing of Ontario’s Supporting First Responders Act in April, we would like to see it expanded to all workers who experience trauma on the job. And traumatic experiences are far from rare in the mental health field.
The new legislation makes it easier for paramedics, firefighters and fire investigators, police officers, correctional officers and dispatchers to gain access to WSIB benefits if they suffer from PTSD. It is now presumed their diagnosis is work-related, so they are no longer required to prove it.
OPSEU is unrelenting in its drive to push the government to include all workers, including mental health workers, in the new PTSD legislation.
“Having worked on the front lines in the mental health profession, I know the kind of trauma these workers can experience on the job,” said OPSEU President Warren (Smokey) Thomas. “We intend to put more pressure on the government to recognize that work-related PTSD is just as real for mental health workers as it is for those already covered by the Supporting First Responders Act.”