Mental Health in the Workplace: A Rising Concern

The impact of mental health issues on the workplace has become an increasing concern, particularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. With a significant rise in mental health-related claims among young Canadians, it is clear that proactive efforts are needed to address mental health in professional settings. What is current state of mental health in the workplace?

How do we prioritize mental health for employers and employees? What are strategies for creating a supportive work environment?

Recent data reveals the alarming state of mental health among young Canadians. Between 2019 and 2021, there was a 24% increase in mental health drug claims for Canadians under 30, with a 51% increase in mental health paramedical claims for those under 35​1​. These figures could also signal a positive shift: an increase in awareness and discussion around mental health leading to more people seeking help​2​.

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko

The Importance of Prioritizing Mental Health

Mental health is a critical aspect of overall well-being and productivity and should be a priority for employers and employees. Research shows that the severity and duration of mental disorders are reduced when people access care sooner rather than later. The proper treatment at the right time from the right practitioner is vital, whether it’s a family doctor, psychologist, or Employee Assistance Program at work​3​. If you feel like you need help, get help. Don’t wait.

The Role of Employers in Supporting Mental Health

Employers play a vital role in supporting the mental health of their employees. Sun Life’s Designed for Health report shows that mental disorders are the primary driver of disability claims for those under 44 years old, with over half of all such claims being for mental disorders​4​. Furthermore, data from the Work Health Survey reveals that managerial support strongly correlates with positive employee mental health outcomes​5​.

Sun Life’s Senior Vice-President of Group Benefits, Marie-Chantal Côté, emphasizes the need for quality treatment access through workplace benefit plans. The company has launched several innovative solutions, such as a Mental Health Coach provided by CloudMD, a mental health toolkit for employers, and a Virtual Care Stress Management and Well-Being program​6​​7​.

Mental health support needs to be a top priority in the workplace, not just for the well-being of employees but also for the company’s success. Employers must actively create a supportive environment where employees feel comfortable seeking help. Actions such as these can improve employee well-being and enhance an organization’s ability to attract and retain talent​8​. Addressing mental health openly, honestly, and without stigma is not just a moral imperative – it’s a strategic one.