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Technological innovations in the workplace can increase anxiety for employees: advocate

Mental Health in the Workplace
Businessman and mental health advocate, Bill Wilkerson, discusses mental health issues brought on in the workplace and what needs to change to create healthier work environments.

Many Canadians may not be aware that mental illness is considered a disability. During National AccessAbility Week (May 31 – June 6), one of the digital conference’s guest speakers brings his expertise on the subject to help break barriers of mental health-related disabilities, primarily in the workplace.

Executive chairman of Mental Health International, Bill Wilkerson, will take part in a speaker series as part of NAAW’s Nova Scotia Digital Conference on June 5 at 10 a.m. ADT. The theme for his session will be the new ways technologies, like artificial intelligence, are moving closer to replicating the human brain and how its use in the workplace may affect employees on a larger scale.

“We’ve got to make sure that artificial intelligence does not become primary in the workplace at the expense of the health, jobs and well-being of the people who are in those workplaces,” Wilkerson says.

READ MORE: Halifax-based non-profit goes digital for week-long conference on accessibility and inclusion

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Mental Health International, which aims to dispel misconceptions surrounding mental health and mental illness using scientific research, recently released a report discussing well-being and artificial intelligence and will present it through the speaker session.

 

Technological innovations can increase anxiety for many employees, leading to mental and physical illness, according to Wilkerson.
Technological innovations can increase anxiety for many employees, leading to mental and physical illness, according to Wilkerson. Getty Images

Wilkerson says these technological innovations can increase anxiety for many employees, leading to physical health issues like heart attacks or even death.

“Those are the kinds of things that eat away at the functioning of the human brain and therefore can lead to these very serious clinical problems.”

Wilkerson hopes his research will lead to tax reform for businesses to train and update the skills of employees rather than turn to AI.

Dr. Ashley Bender, an occupational psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto, told Global News companies should also work to create safe office environments to help end the stigma of mental illness.

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“Anything that is a potential threat to the loss of work or… their work status is something that could contribute to (someone) not coming forward with mental health issues,” Bender says.

READ MORE: Vast majority of workers with mental health issues keep it secret from their boss, study says

The Nova Scotia National AccessAbility Week Digital Conference is free and open to everyone and is available to access through the reachAbility website. Now More Than Ever: Mental Health in the Era of Artificial Intelligence will broadcast through the reachAbility YouTube channel Friday, June 5 at 10 a.m (ADT). It will be recorded and available to watch any time.