Mental health claims in Canada surge by 132 per cent since start of pandemic

Two-thirds of missed workdays attributed to poor mental health: report

Mental health claims in Canada surge by 132 per cent since start of pandemic

Since the onset of the pandemic, mental health claims by Canadians have increased by 132 per cent, according to a report.

And this is causing employees to lose working hours: 62 per cent of missed workdays can be attributed to poor mental health, with an average of 12 days lost per employee per year, reports GreenShield.

On top of that, 50 per cent of full-time employees have quit their jobs due to mental health reasons, with higher occurrences in millennials (68 per cent) and Gen Z (81 per cent) workers.

Between 2019 and 2022, the number of members making mental health practitioner claims grew by almost 70 per cent, Sun Life previously reported.

Number of emergency room visits surge

Canadians also seem to be struggling more with their overall health, according to GreenShield’s report.

One in five Canadians, or a total of 6.5 million, do not have access to either a family doctor or a nurse practitioner.

Among those who do, 40 per cent wait four days or more to see a healthcare professional for a minor health concern. And 65 per cent don’t have access on weekends or after 5 p.m. on weekdays.

Among those who do not have either a family doctor or a nurse practitioner, 50 per cent visit a walk-in clinic for health problems, while the rest visit a virtual walk-in clinic (27 per cent) or ER (24 per cent).

However, 61 per cent of primary care practices are not accepting new patients.

“Many Canadians struggle to find a primary care provider,” according to GreenShield. “Even when clinics are open, they often do not accept new patients or have consistent hours, which forces people to seek medical care in emergency rooms for minor issues. As a result, nearly 70 per cent of Canadians postpone or avoid medical visits, leading to an increase in emergency room visits from 14 million in 2021–22 to 15.1 million in 2022–23.”

Why do employers need to care about every aspect of employees' health?

Personal wellbeing is top of mind for most Canadian workers, and as a result, they are looking for more supports from their employers, according to a previous report.

By turning to digital health solutions, employers can help out their workers, according to GreenShield. In fact, 97 per cent of all Employee Assistance Program (EAP) counselling appointments in 2023 were accessed virtually.

"We're seeing a strong interest in accessible workplace health solutions and holistic support, highest among women and younger employees," says Harriet Ekperigin, vice president, mental health, GreenShield Health. "Our priority is to ensure these health services aren't just convenient to access, but effective in improving health outcomes. Having a healthier workforce will improve engagement, reduce absenteeism, and mitigate chronic diseases and their associated costs, helping both employers and employees unlock their full potential."

Ensuring that workers are at an optimal health level is good business for employers, according to Kara Dennison, CEO of Optimized Career Solutions.

“Improving employee well-being is not just a way to help your employees feel better; it’s a needed strategic investment. When you prioritize the health and happiness of your employees, they become more engaged, productive, and will likely stay with the company for the long term,” she says in a Forbes article.

“Leaders need buyin from employees to create an impact, and employees drive more results when they are healthy and happy. Thriving companies in 2024 will have leaders that prioritize their employees' needs and top talent will no longer settle for companies that value them, completely.”

Here’s how to ensure success with a wellbeing program, according to an expert.

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