New surveys suggest that while more Canadian workers are paying attention to their mental health, there are still some issues holding them back from properly addressing their psychological wellbeing.
Mental health is steadily being recognized as an issue among Canadians, insurers have discovered. According to the 2019 Sun Life Barometer by Sun Life Financial, 59% of working Canadians have experienced a mental health issue – an increase from 52% in 2017. Another survey by RBC Insurance found that more Canadians are recognizing depression (53%) and anxiety (41%) as disabilities, compared to last year (47% and 36%, respectively).
However, the same reports also found that while Canadians have recognized the problem of mental health issues, they are finding it difficult to tackle their own conditions, or even discuss it with others.
Sun Life’s poll revealed that 60% of working Canadians suffering from mental health issues are not accessing support through their workplace benefits, and a staggering 78% have not accessed government-funded services.
RBC Insurance’s survey noted that 48% of working Canadians are reluctant to admit their mental health issues and 27% said they would not reveal anything at all to their boss or co-workers. The study suggests that the main reason for this is due to the shame and prejudice associated with mental illnesses.
The top reasons for not admitting or being reluctant to admit a mental illness, as surveyed by RBC Insurance, are:
- Believing that there is a public stigma around mental health – 45%
- Not wanting to be treated differently – 44%
- Not wanting to be judged – 40%
- Fear of negative consequences, such as losing their job – 36%
“It’s encouraging to see that Canadians are making the connection between mental illness and disability, most likely because of educational efforts and the openness of those who are willing to share their personal struggles,” commented RBC Insurance senior director of life & health Maria Winslow. “However, it’s apparent that the perception of stigma still exists, which impedes some people’s ability or willingness to speak up and seek help.”
“We all have a role to play in supporting mental health in Canada. As an employer, it’s about creating a safe environment for your employees and ensuring they feel supported throughout their mental health journey,” explained Sun Life Canada president Jacques Goulet. “Together, we can break down barriers and open the door for communication for someone experiencing a mental health condition. Help is out there, no-one should face these challenges on their own.”