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The Costs and Benefits of Recruiting and Retaining People with Mental Illness

Free 1 Hour
The term Aspiring Workforce describes those people who, due to mental illness, have been unable to enter the workforce, or who are in and out of the workforce due to episodic illness, or who wish to return to work after a lengthy period of illness.

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The Aspiring Workforce are an untapped source of labour who can play an important role in addressing urgent business needs and skills shortages.  Join Rebecca Gewurtz from McMaster University, Michael MacDonald from Jazz airlines and Krista Benes from the Mental Health Commission of Canada as we explore the business case for hiring and retaining individuals with a mental illness.

Learning Outcomes

Review the business case for hiring, accommodating and supporting workers with mental illness
Share the results of a study, led by the Mental Health Commission of Canada, that builds the business case for employers to recruit and retain individuals living with a mental illness. The business case includes qualitative and quantitative findings that outlines the benefits, and ongoing challenges, of hiring and supporting individuals with a mental illness
Share the experiences, from an employer perspective, on actively recruiting and retaining individuals with mental illness – starting with a critical understanding of the work being done. we creatively look for ways to allow individuals opportunities to contribute to productivity goals while respecting their health management needs. Tactics such as alternative scheduling, modified tasks, and informal support will be explored.


Rebecca Gewurtz
Dr. Rebecca Gewurtz holds a PhD from the University of Toronto and completed a collaborative program through the CHSRF/CIHR in Health Services and Policy Research. Dr. Gewurtz’ research focuses on work disability policy, income insecurity, and employment among people living with disabilities, with a focus on mental illness and other episodic disabilities. She has been examining the experiences of various stakeholders including people with disabilities, service providers, co-workers and employers as people with disabilities are hired and accommodated in diverse workplaces, as well as the impact and coordination of income security benefits. She has been involved in large partnership projects that include diverse community collaborators such as employers, non-profit social service organizations and government agencies. She has experience with participatory action research and co-designing solutions to complex workplace problems. Her recent work includes a focus on measuring accessibility, the experiences of people transitioning from homelessness to being housed, and the process of negotiating workplace accommodations. She has also been examining the impact of physical distancing policies associated with the COVID-19 pandemic on low-income households.
Krista Benes
Krista Benes is a Program Manager in Workplace Mental Health at the Mental Health at the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Her experience working in frontline mental health and conducting research in career development, unemployment and underemployment, give her a unique perspective to lead the Aspiring Workforce file and to identify ways to reduce employment barriers for those living with a mental illness.

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