'Employers can play a proactive role in providing employees access to resiliency and coping skills programs'
More than eight in 10 (84 per cent) Canadians say their mental health concerns have worsened across 15 factors since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a report from the Conference Board of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).
These include: the wellbeing of family (up 24 per cent) and people’s future (23 per cent) and feelings of isolation or loneliness and anxiousness or fear (both up 21 per cent).
Overall, Canadian’s mental health score for 15 factors amid the pandemic was at 54.6, up from 33 before COVID-19, a 14 per cent jump on a scale range of 15 to 150.
To cope, Canadians are connecting with family and friends through technology (75 per cent), walking or jogging (68 per cent), exercising (67 per cent) and streaming online channels (64 per cent), found the survey of more than 1,800 respondents conducted between April 27 and May 15, 2020.
Few seeking help
However, few Canadians are seeking help: 12 per cent are talking with a therapist, counsellor or psychologist; nine per cent are turning to telemedicine for medical support; and eight per cent are getting help from online physical health trainers.
There are also those trying to cope by eating, drinking and taking drugs.
“People who experience mental duress and who have not learned or adopted healthy coping skills are likely to engage in riskier coping activities like alcohol or drug use,” says Bill Howatt, research chief of health at the Conference Board of Canada. “Employers can play a proactive role in providing employees access to resiliency and coping skills programs that can help them learn and master these skills.”
The board makes several recommendations on ways employers can help mitigate mental harms and support employees' mental health:
- Put an increased level of vigilance on employee’s psychological safety.
- Complete a full inventory of all support programs.
- Obtain a workforce mental health baseline.
- Promote and evaluate employee and family assistance programs (EFAPs) and psychological services.
- Conduct a coping strategies review.
Pharmacogenetics can make a difference when it comes to treating people with mental health issues, according to a new study.
Earlier this month, a Sun Life survey found that while 56 per cent of Canadians say that COVID-19 is hurting their mental health, just 42 per cent are currently seeking treatment or support.