Index finds high mental health risk for one in three workers in Canada

Health exec says findings a reflection of "concerning reality"

Index finds high mental health risk for one in three workers in Canada

Life & Health

By Terry Gangcuangco

A new mental health index underscores growing feelings of isolation and loneliness among Canadian workers under the age of 40, who are experiencing mental health risks at a higher rate than their older counterparts.

The TELUS Mental Health Index revealed varying degrees of mental health risk among Canadian workers, with 33% at high risk, 45% at moderate risk, and 22% at low risk. Additionally, 10% of workers do not feel valued and respected by their peers, correlating with the lowest mental health scores.

The report by healthcare provider TELUS Health also found that 45% of Canadian employees lack trusted relationships at work, a situation more prevalent among younger colleagues.

Loneliness epidemic among younger workers?

The index sheds light on the state of mental well-being among the working population in Canada, the US, the UK, Europe, Singapore, New Zealand, and Australia.

According to TELUS Health, a lack of trusted connections in the workplace is closely linked to feelings of loneliness.

According to the World Health Organization, loneliness poses a significant global health risk comparable to hazards like smoking, obesity, and insufficient physical activity. The severity of loneliness’ impact on mortality is likened to the consequences of smoking 15 cigarettes daily, according to the US Surgeon General.

Paula Allen, TELUS Health’s global leader for research & client insights, highlighted the worrisome trend: “The Index findings reflect a concerning reality, in particular for our younger workers. It also impacts businesses as loneliness and social isolation negatively impact both health and workplace productivity.”

She emphasized the role of rapid societal shifts and dwindling social support in exacerbating stress factors such as inflation, housing affordability, and job security, which are particularly challenging for individuals in the early stages of their careers.

TELUS Health advocates for the creation of a trust-based workplace culture to mitigate isolation and emphasizes the benefit of companies offering health, personal, and financial support programs. Such initiatives enhance employee well-being and also yield financial gains for employers by improving health and productivity.

Dr Matthew Chow, chief mental health officer at TELUS Health, stressed the importance of employers creating supportive and inclusive work environments.

“With the physical and mental impacts of isolation now being discussed more broadly, it would be wise for employers to acknowledge it as a health risk and prioritize meaningful social connections to support employee wellbeing,” he said.

“In addition to implementing employee assistance programs and other initiatives to address the mental strain, fostering a healthy and connected workplace environment enables individuals to thrive. This, in turn, leads to improved retention, productivity, engagement, and overall better health outcomes."

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