More than eight out of 10 Canadians (84%) report their mental health concerns have worsened since the onset of COVID-19, according to a poll conducted by The Conference Board of Canada in partnership with the Mental Health Commission of Canada. THE RESULTS WERE RELEASED ONLINE ON JUNE 23.

The survey addressed 15 areas related to mental health and asked respondents to describe their levels of concern before COVID-19 and now. In all 15 areas, the levels of concern increased by statistically significant amounts. The biggest concerns were in the areas of family well-being, personal future, feelings of isolation/loneliness and feelings of anxiousness/fear. The unemployed and students had greater levels of concern.

The survey considered 32 possible coping strategies, of which six have the potential to lead to high-risk behaviours. The number one coping strategy was connecting with family and friends using technology, and the number one potential at-risk behaviour was the consumption of food. Among those who sought out help, the top three behaviours were speaking with a mental health expert, telemedicine and online physical health trainers.

A deeper analysis of the results, AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOADING, includes recommended actions for employers in five areas:

  • Increased vigilance on employees’ psychological safety;
  • An inventory of support programs;
  • Establishment of a baseline for workforce mental health;
  • Evaluation and promotion of employee family assistance and psychological services; and
  • A review of coping strategies.

This article is part of The Benefits Alliance Take 5 for Health Benefits. Take 5 is a quarterly initiative that provides a deeper look a the employee benefits space by providing examples, research and case studies on what’s working for employers in Canada.