Four members of the IBEW Local 1245 Health and Safety committee attended the IBEW labor division caucus and National Safety Council caucus in Rosemont, Ill. They participated in trainings and classes focused on member health, including a discussion of the rising issue of mental health and suicide.
Canadian International Representative Bruce Harris spoke at length about mental illness, addiction and suicide among IBEW workforces in both Canada and the U.S., which share similar statistics and overall impacts on their populations as a whole.
He addressed the prevalence of four main forms of mental illness by percent of population– schizophrenia (1.1%), bipolar disorder (2.6%), major depression (6.9%) and anxiety disorders (18%) — which are estimated to affect over 100,000 IBEW members. According to Harris, 150,000 IBEW members will face mental illness in some form over their lifetimes.
He cited new data that revealed 50% of addiction issues, such as opiate addiction, are tied to some form of mental illness.
There is a new term entering the workplace lexicon such as “presenteeism”, in which employees are physically present at work but otherwise disengaged and not fully aware while working, often a sa result of mental illness. Presenteeism is estimated to cost businesses and the health care system an estimated $25 billion a year, largely due to accidents and property damage.
Finally, during economic boom times, when many people are working extended hours or are under production pressures, mental illness issues spike upward. Brother Harris offered that most people view it as something they need to “tough through, or are too tough to talk about it” — and as a result, the problem remains hidden until a shocking event, such as employment termination or suicide, occurs.
The IBEW International has given the green light to Brother Harris to speak to IBEW members throughout the Canadian provinces on those subjects, in order to raise awareness on mental health and suicide, as well as teach people what they can do to address these issues where they live and work.
A basic video detailing the different forms of mental illness and how to recognize them can be found here.
Test your knowledge on mental health and suicide recognition below by taking the following quizzes on mental health and suicide.
— Rich Lane, IBEW 1245 Business Representative
Mental Health Myths and Facts Quiz
- On average, people with mental health issues are:
a. Much more likely to be violent than the general population
b. About as likely to slightly more likely to be violent as the general population
c. Less likely to be violent than the general population
- On average, compared to the general population, mental health consumers are:
a. More likely to be a victim of violent crime
b. About as likely to be the victim of violent crime
c. Less likely to be the victim of violent crime
- On average, compared to the general population, consumers with a serious mental illness will:
a. Live about 5 years less
b. Live about 10 years less
c. Live about 25 years less
- For any adult living in the United States, the chance of suffering from a diagnosable mental disorder in a given year is:
a. About 1 in 100 (1%)
b. About 1 in 20 (5%)
c. About 1 in 4 (25%)
d. About 1 in 2 (50%)
- True or False: Mental disorders are the leading cause of disability in the U.S. and Canada for ages 15-44.
Answers: 1-b 2-a 3-a 4-c 5-True
A Suicide Quiz: Assessing Knowledge
- In what age group are individuals in the United States most likely to consider suicide?
a. 15-24 years
b. 25-44 years
c. 45-64 years
d. 65-84 years
- Are females or males more likely to commit suicide?
c. Both are the same
- It is better to not talk about suicide with someone who may be thinking about it as this may plant the idea in their heads:
- There is usually one sudden and traumatizing event that causes a person to attempt suicide?
- Which ethnic group is at higher risk of suicide?
b. African American
c. American Indian/Alaskan Native
d. Asian/Pacific Islander
- The majority of individuals who attempt suicide let someone know about their intentions.
- People who are thinking about suicide do so because they really want to die.
- A previous suicide attempt is a serious risk factor for someone completing the suicide in the future.
- The only one who can really help a suicidal student is a counselor or mental health professional.
- Teens who talk about suicide don’t complete suicide as they are just seeking attention.
Answers: 1-C 2-B 3-False 4-False 5-A 6-True 7-False 8-False 9-False 10-False