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September 26th, 2014

 

World Mental Health Day: OISE leads in reseach on impact of domestic violence at work

 

Members of the dv@worknetwork

Members of the dv@worknetwork (Domestic Violence at Work Network) panel.
 

Words by: Jennifer O’Reilly
Picture by: Barb MacQuarrie
 
Mounting global evidence suggests that the impact of domestic violence on workers and the workplace is a significant and growing problem, one that particularly impacts women’s participation in the economy and society. In economic terms, Canadian employers are estimated to lose $77.9 million annually as a result of domestic violence, costs mostly associated with lost productivity due to victim absences, lateness and distraction (Zhang et al, 2012).
 
The workplace impact of domestic violence was the focus of the inaugural meeting of a new ­­­Canadian-led international network of researchers, domestic violence experts, social and labour organizations, and employers, led by OISE’s domestic violence expert Katreena Scott (right).  According to Scott, who holds the Canada Research Chair in Family Violence Prevention and Treatment, the workplace impact of domestic violence is often underestimated: many people believe that it simply “does not impact the work environment and that workplaces have no role to play in addressing it.”
 
The primary goal of the new research network is to accelerate the development of an emerging global knowledge base on the impact of domestic violence in the workplace. Scott hopes the research will make the workplace a safer environment for the disclosure of domestic violence, and will ensure workplaces are better able to respond in ways that benefit both victims and offenders.
 
Scott’s project is funded by the Social Science and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SHHRC) and has the potential to improve the productivity and health of the global workforce. Scott and her co-investigators believe that a new appreciation of the potential role of workplaces to shift societal norms around the acceptability of domestic violence in developing countries is also a potential outcome of this important work.
 
World Mental Health Day is October 10.  For more information about this and other mental health research, please visit http://www.prevailresearch.ca or contact the Department of Applied Psychology and Human Development at OISE.