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COVID-19 a negative on employee mental health: report

Half of respondents report their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

May 7, 2020   by PLANT STAFF

In Canada, COVID-19 shifts views on mental health in the workplace (CNW Group/Teladoc Health)

TORONTO — A new study of Canadians highlights the negative mental health impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The report also indicates that a growing number of employers are offering mental health support, mirroring employees’ interest and comfort in virtual care options.

The study of 1,558 employees or those recently employed in Canada and the US was conducted by Leger and commissioned by Teladoc Health, a telemedicine company in Purchase, NY,  as a follow-up to the company’s 2019 international mental health study conducted last fall.

As a result of COVID-19, one in two respondents indicate their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The data shows:

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  • The negative impact on female respondents (57%) is far greater than male respondents (43%).
  • 52% of respondents between the ages of 18-34 were negatively impacted.
  • Respondents over the age of 65, an age group that has been deemed most at risk for the virus, experienced the lowest reported negative impact in both Canada (37%) and the U.S.(38%).

The study finds there is progress in opening the dialogue and closing the gap for mental health support in the workplace.

Nearly 40% of respondents in Canada indicated employers have responded to the pandemic with some or all of the following initiatives:

  • Offering additional mental health support.
  • Raising the discussion of employee mental health needs.
  • Waiving fees for mental health support.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has given the mental health dialogue even greater importance and further advanced awareness and support for mental health among employers who are making it a priority,” said David Sides, COO at Teladoc Health, in a  statement. “Our research from 2019 to today shows that we’re closing the gap in employer support for mental health, as well as employees growing comfort in the use of virtual care.”

The study also found that Canadian respondents with an employee benefits plan (66%) are more aware of the mental health resources available to them than US respondents (55%). Eighty-five per cent of Canadians who have access to employee benefits said plans should offer virtual care benefits as an option to support mental health concerns as they do with physical health needs.

“This pandemic has further highlighted the access gaps and need for widespread mental health care,” said Gustavo Kinrys, medical director and vice-president of mental health services at Teladoc. “The call for support is trending upward, as we play a critical role in working to help improve mental health education and awareness.”