January 2023 Newletter


According to a 2020 survey on mental health symptoms during COVID-19,

  • 20% of Canadians are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • 68% who reported a mental health issue reported that their mental health has worsened since the pandemic.
  • 30% of disability claims are related to mental health illness.

In the 25th annual Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey released on 21 September, 2022:

  • One in five (22%) Canadians with a workplace health benefits plan describe their personal mental health over the last year as being poor. This is double the proportion who rate their general health in the same way (10%).
  • One in four (27%) score their personal daily stress over the previous three months as extreme or very high. While this level is down from a pandemic high of 35% last year, high stress still has a very significant impact on Canadians and Canadian workplaces.
    • This rate more than doubles (56%) among those who indicate their mental health is poor.
    • Personal finances remain the top stressor (35%) for respondents, followed by workload (30%) and work-life balance (30%).
  • While 75% of respondents report that their employer supports a mentally well workplace, when probed, just 61% believe their employer is effective in helping manage and deal with stress and just 49% feel this way regarding their employer’s effectiveness in helping deal with mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety.
  • On their part, an increasing number of employers that offer health benefits plans indicate they provide training for their managers and/or employees to help recognize and respond appropriately to signs of depression or other mental illnesses (58%, up from 48% last year).
  • Looking at other issues that could impact mental health, 27% report they have experienced discrimination in the workplace.
    • Among this group, a very significant proportion (43%) also indicate extreme to high rates of daily stress.
  • Asked what aspect of the pandemic will have the most significant long-term impacts on their health benefits plans over the next five years, employers anticipate it will be mental-health claims among their employees (37%), excluding those who suffer or suffered from COVID-19.
    • In second spot are all of the claims (including mental health) among those who suffered/suffer from COVID-19 (30%).
    • Further down the list, 26% indicate the costs associated with mental-health claims for their employees’ dependants will be among the top long-term impacts of the pandemic.

The Workplace

Mental health is a growing issue in Canada and in the workplace, particularly after COVID. Approximately 20% is experiencing mental health issues and this increases to 50% by age 40. Before the COVID pandemic, about 2% of Canadians reported moderately severe or severe symptoms of depression. By 2022, that number had skyrocketed to 14 per cent or one in every seven people.

A recent survey from CAMH and Delvinia found that about one in five Canadians are reporting high levels of mental distress. Overall, 20.9% of respondents indicated moderate to severe anxiety levels, 20.1% reported feeling depressed, and 21.3% reported feelings of loneliness – as mentioned in the current issue (Jan./Feb.) of Mission’s What’s On magazine (Pg. 42).

There has long been a stigma surrounding mental health issues, but the truth is mental health problems impact not only the employee, but business. Increased absenteeism and reduction in morale affect the company’s business directly. Moreover, mental health issues may increase accidents due to human error and staff turnover. According to the World Health Organization, depression and anxiety alone cost the global economy approximately US$1 trillion annually.

So, what is the role of the business owner or manager? A difficult one no less as some research has shown that they aren’t equipped to manage employees’ challenges arising from any symptoms of post-Covid stress, anxiety, depression, etc. Actional examples may include employee accommodations such as altered break and work schedules, scheduling work around therapy appointments (currently with long waitlists), quiet office spaces, changes in supervisory methods (providing written instructions as opposed to oral) and working from home. In addition, managers may keep an open-door policy (certainly not as effective as organised, structured and dedicated time) and let employees know they are there for support.

Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) are also valuable. Many companies added or expanded EAPs and services during the pandemic. Employers should consider continuing to support EAPs and employer-sponsored mental health programs (of which we can be of service). There are a number of different initiatives in the works by organisations such as Fraser Health, Canadian Mental Health Commission, Centre for Addictions and Mental Health, virtual/telehealth mental health counselling, virtual groups, etc. All these resources will assist in meeting some of the concerns expressed by employees. Unfortunately, stigma and waitlists continue to be a barrier to accessing services.

Our proposal

In my mental health experience as a clinician/group facilitator/clinical coordinator/Manager for over 26 years (23 years in Mission and counting [retired since 2018 but still facilitating Anxiety and Depression groups in Mental Health] and 4 years in the UK), access to community mental health services continues to be challenging due to long waitlists, both for 1:1 counselling supports and group services; the latter of which continues to be in a virtual format in almost all community mental health centres.

We are proposing the creation of an in-house resource for your employees to access mental health support and services. Our group facilitations start from a place of information-giving/demystification as many employees lack knowledge about the signs and symptoms of mental disorders.

Without knowing that what they’re experiencing can be successfully managed, they won’t be able to seek appropriate assistance. Often, they’ll ignore the psychological pain or discomfort they are in, with the belief that they will feel better if they push on through. In the absence of that knowledge, they show up to work, think they are pulling their weight, and believing they are still contributing to their teams. The truth is: they are not; they are unwell.

Unfortunately, mental health concerns do not discriminate, and our pain is more than just psychological. It also encompasses other dimensions – emotional, social, spiritual, cognitive and physical.

Our workshop modality creates a place of safety and confidentiality as everyone is a colleague, decreasing stigma compared to if services were accessed in the public domain.

Unfortunately, mental health concerns are still closely aligned with stigma and almost 40% of people who have depression, anxiety, etc. forgo looking for a mental health consultation due to the anxiety of being judged or misunderstood.

Please let us know if we can fill a mental health need for your colleagues/employees. We offer presentations and an array of workshops; and can tailor a workshop for your specific needs.

Our general website is:   changewerxs.com

Jason can also be reached at:  jyk@hotmail.ca

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