Mental health issues on rise, majority not getting help

by James Burton25 Sep 2019

Mental health issues are on the rise among Canadians but the majority of people affected are not accessing support through workplace benefits or government-funded services.

Findings from the 2019 Sun Life Barometer revealed 59% of working people have experienced a mental health issue, an increase from 52% in 2017, but that 60% are not getting help through benefits and 78% haven’t used government services.

Jacques Goulet, president, Sun Life Canada, said: “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.

“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."

The 2019 Sun Life Barometer is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between March 28 and April 3, 2019. A sample of 2,901 Canadians was drawn from the Ipsos I-Say online panel, featuring 2,901 working Canadians from 20 to 80 years of age and 2,151 aged 20-64. The data was weighted to ensure the sample's regional, age, and gender composition reflected that of the actual Canadian population.

Sun Life reported that by 2020, millennials will make up an estimated 50% of the workplace, with two out of three in that demographic having reportedly dealt with a mental health issue at some point in their life.

Positively, 76% have said they are speaking to their loved ones about it but, worryingly, millennials are the least likely to seek help from health professionals (39%) while 61% have not made use of their workplace mental health benefits.

The company urged those affected – and insurance professionals helping them – not to forget that free therapy and e-therapy programs funded by the government are available, even if 76% of millennials are not making use of them.

The good news is, 76% of millennials who report mental health challenges are speaking to their loved ones about it.

When it comes to finding mental health support, millennials are the least likely to seek help from health professionals (39%), and 61% have not made use of their workplace mental health benefits. Regardless of access to workplace benefit plans, free therapy and e-therapy programs funded by the government are available; yet 76% of millennials are not using these services.

Dave Jones, senior vice-president, group benefits, Sun Life Canada, said: “Whether you need someone to talk to, or help navigating the health care system, there are resources out there to get you the care you need – and quickly.

“Taking the first step is never easy but with mental health issues on the rise, it's crucial for Canadians to maximize the tools offered by their workplace. Employees often don't realize that their employer has resources available to help them, whether it be to maintain their mental health on a day-to-day basis or during a difficult time."

Between workplace benefits plans, government resources and innovative apps, there are a variety of mental health tools to support Canadians:

  • Workplace benefits and Employee Assistance Programs: Many employers offer robust benefit plans that focus on mental, physical and financial health. Check in with your employer to learn more about your benefits.
  • Lumino Health: Sun Life's online health network helps you search for trusted health care providers near you and find out about health innovations. Explore new mental health-related apps, articles, products and services to help you and your family live a healthier life.
  • Government resources: Mental health support is available through a local office of the Canadian Mental Health Association, a local crisis line or by contacting a general practitioner in your area.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health emergency, calling 9-1-1 and seeking immediate help may be necessary.