More workers consider mental illness a disability

But fewer people have disability coverage through workplace benefits

More workers consider mental illness a disability

More Canadians are recognizing mental illnesses as actual disabilities, finds a recent report.

Specifically, roughly half think that depression (54 per cent) and anxiety (44 per cent) are disabilities, the highest figures since 2019, according to RBC Insurance.

"Over the years, we have seen more and more Canadians recognizing that disabilities can be mental, and not just physical in nature," says Maria Winslow, senior director for life and health at RBC Insurance. "This is an important shift, particularly as people continue to deal with the ongoing stresses of the pandemic and they continue to report a decline in their mental health."

Currently, 54 per cent of Canadians rate their mental health as excellent or good, down 12 percentage points over that same period in 2019, found the survey of 1,501 working Canadians in October.

Feelings of burnout are the main source of stress (42 per cent), followed by finances, and income protection if they get sick or have COVID-19 (39 per cent) and increased work hours or workload (33 per cent).

Nearly half of Canadians (48 per cent) are more stressed to start 2022 than they were during the first lockdowns in 2020, according to a separate report.

Disability leaves

Those reporting poor mental health (32 per cent) are more likely to take time off due to disability than those who report good mental health (12 per cent), finds RBC.

Canadians who have a group benefits plan (60 per cent) or buy their own disability coverage (66 per cent) are more likely to rate their mental health as excellent or good.

However, fewer people report having disability coverage either through their workplace benefits (down six points) or an individual disability plan (down nine points).

"The number of Canadians with disability coverage has declined from the peak of the pandemic to today," says Winslow. "But as mental health challenges continue to rise and the future remains uncertain, it's more important than ever for all Canadians to consider their options for financial protection."

Workers give employers a failing grade when it comes to mental health support, according to a previous report.

Workplace mental health is the most important issue organizations are facing today, and establishing a mentally healthy workplace for isolated and overworked employees “should be an ongoing priority for business leaders,” according to employee benefits marketplace CloudAdvisors.

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