Low mental health reported among Canadians compared to pre-pandemic: survey

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Canadians have reported negative levels of mental health for the 16th consecutive month since April 2020 in comparison to their overall pre-pandemic benchmark, according to LifeWorks’ monthly Mental Health Index.

This past July, the overall Mental Health Index score was a -10.1 in comparison with the pre-COVID benchmark that’s been set at zero.

According to LifeWorks, this “reflects a population whose mental health is similar to the most distressed four per cent of the benchmark population.”

Per LifeWorks’ July report, managers have worse mental health and are experiencing more mental strain than those who aren’t managers. For the 14th consecutive month, full-time college and university students also have the lowest mental health score.

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“Basically from our research, the centre of everything in terms of health, well-being (and) productivity is one’s mental health,” said Paula Allen, LifeWorks’ global leader and senior vice-president of research and total well-being.

“What’s clear is that has been significantly compromised as a result of all the upheaval of the pandemic.”

The Mental Health Index found that women are less likely to say that their organization supports a culture of well-being. They’re also more likely to prefer working from home full-time to prioritize well-being in comparison to men.

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“This data is showing that there is more of a gap between what organizations are doing and what women need than there is a gap between what organizations are doing and what men need,” Allen told Global News.

“I think the main takeaway here is that organizations would do well to understand the needs of different groups.”

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While women are more likely to prefer to work remotely full-time for well-being reasons, 66 per cent of Canadians said that working from home had a positive impact on their mental health. Thirty-four per cent of people said a lack of commuting time is the most important reason to work remotely.

“This is very reflective of who is coming to work and doing work every single day,” Allen said, adding the findings of the Mental Health Index have helped highlight the fact that business leaders need to invest in people’s mental health and pay attention to it.

Looking toward the future, Allen said she expects organizations that focus on well-being and recognize their workers will do well in comparison to ones that don’t.

“I can say that quite confidently because we see people talking about resigning,” she added.

“Our society is really powered by people, and the difference between organizational success is people. Whether you’re in a role where you’re doing innovation, creativity and development, or you’re in a role where you have to provide excellent customer service, your well-being is the core of how well you’re going to be able to do that.”

According to the July report, people who don’t have emergency savings continue to experience a lower mental health score than the overall population and those who have emergency savings.

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When it comes to inter-provincial differences, provinces rank similarly on mental health score fluctuations, with the exception of Newfoundland and Labrador, which has fared the best in terms of mental health since April 2020.

LifeWorks is a company that works to find both in-person and digital solutions that support people’s well-being. Its most recent Mental Health Index survey was conducted online between June 30 and July 12, with 3,000 Canadian respondents who were employed within the last six months.

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