Canadians’ mental health score declines for 15th consecutive month

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Published July 21, 2021 at 2:38 pm

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For the 15th consecutive month, Canadians received a negative mental health score for LifeWorks’ The Mental Health Index.

Part of the reason for June’s poor score (-10.7) is attributed to the uncertainty associated with a looming end to working remotely.

According to the report, 25 per cent of Canadians feel their employer’s plan to return to the office is unclear, while 12 per cent believe their employer does not even have a plan.

Those who are part of these two groups scored among the lowest for their mental health scores—they had scores of -17.9 and -14.9 respectively.

Additionally, 38 per cent of respondents said they expect their employer will want employees working in their pre-pandemic environment.

Further, 17 per cent believe their employer will allow remote work to continue, 14 per cent expect to return to the office just part of the time, and just six per cent expect to have the flexibility to choose what works best for them—working on-site or remotely.

“As flexibility and hybrid work environments become part of everyday life, yet another workplace transition is likely to cause increased mental strain among working Canadians,” Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO of LifeWorks, said in a news release.

“As we look to the other side of the pandemic, organizations should consider focusing on wellbeing as a vital part of their culture. This means continuing to prioritize employee mental health with empathy, clear communication and high-quality mental health resources,” he continued.

Moreover, vaccinations was another factor in overall scores—those who were at least partially vaccinated had the most favourable scores (-9.3), compared to those who were not yet vaccinated but hope to be soon (-15.7).

Those who are not vaccinated and do not plan to get vaccinated had an average score of -18.9—the worst score among respondents.

“Since the onset of the pandemic, prolonged uncertainty has contributed to feelings of anxiety and a decline in optimism among Canadians,” Paula Allen, senior vice president of research and total wellbeing for LifeWorks, said in the same release.

“As restrictions continue to ease with climbing vaccination rates, we are seeing an improvement in mental outlook among both fully and partially vaccinated individuals. While this is encouraging, the improvement is fragile, and we are still well below where we were before the pandemic. The next few months will be pivotal. We need to regain a sense of control and deal with the increased mental tension that has become a norm,” she continued. 

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