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By Nicole Mortillaro

Mental health is costing the Canadian economy billions of dollars, according to a report by the Conference Board of Canada.

The board found that depression cost $32.3 billion in lost gross domestic product. Anxiety cost $17.3 billion a year.

The research concluded that almost one-quarter of Canadians are unable to work due to their symptoms. And, in some cases, depression and anxiety prevents people from entering the workforce altogether.

“A large proportion of working Canadians have unmet mental health care needs that prevent them from performing to their utmost and our report shows this has serious consequences for the Canadian economy,” said Louis Thériault, vice-president of public policy for the Conference Board, in a release.

What’s needed is better mental health care and support from employers. If those suffering from depression or anxiety had access to better treatment, the board estimates that up to 352,000 Canadians could be fully functional each year until 2035.

The study was done using data from a survey of mental health clinicians, insurance claims and the Canadian Community Health Survey conducted by Statistics Canada in 2012.

While there are treatments available for depression and anxiety, it doesn’t necessarily mean that people are seeking treatment,” Greg Sutherland, principle economist with the board told Global News. And that could be a result of the stigma that is still associated with these disorders.

“There are studies that say 50 per cent of depression and anxiety patients don’t even seek help,” Sutherland said.

 

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