Seniors, Employment and Mental Health: The Issue

The number of people aged 55 to 64 is at its highest, nearly 3.7 million in 2006 and consist of 16.9% of the working-age population, or about one worker in six, compared with 14.1% in 2001 (Statistics Canada, 2007). This proportion is projected to be over 20% of the working-age population by 2016, when one in five workers will be in the 55 to 64 age group. As workers generally leave the workforce between the ages of 55 and 64, the number of Canadians close to retirement is higher than ever.

In 2006, the ratio of the number of people entering the labour market (15 to 24 years), to the number of people retiring (55 to 64 years) was 1.1. This ratio has declined from 2.3 in 1976. It is projected that in 10 years, the number of Canadians at the age when they can leave the work force will exceed the number who can begin working (Statistics Canada, 2007). These changes may present challenges for employers, such as high employee turnover, knowledge transfer, employee retention, health of older workers and continuous training (Statistics Canada, 2007).

Mental illness compounds the challenges faced by seniors and persons with disabilities who seek and try to maintain employment. Mental illness is commonly associated with self-stigma in addition to discrimination that results in inequitable employment. Individuals with developmental disabilities and mental illness experience stigma associated with dual diagnosis. When seniors and persons with disabilities experience mental illness, they face stigma associated with their mental illness, in addition to stigma associated with aging and disability.

Excerpts from a literature scan examining employment issues and mental health in seniors and disabled populations Mental Wellness In Seniors And Persons With Disabilities Employment Backgrounder – Seniors and Persons with Disabilities by Lili Liu, PhD. – University of Alberta.