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COVID-19 isolation has impacted mental health of 1-in-5 Canadians, survey finds

Report also found some workers are struggling with their employers’ unclear return to work plans
Lifeworks’ Mental Health Index measures current data against pre-pandemic benchmarks. (Pexels)

One-in-five Canadians indicate that isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on their mental health, a new report has found.

Lifeworks’ latest survey-based Mental Health Index found 68 per cent of Canadians have had difficulty with their mental health during the pandemic, with 20 per cent of respondents saying isolation has taken the biggest toll. Although the vaccine rollout has led to an improved outlook, many are still exercising caution because of the threat of the Delta variant.

Full-time post-secondary students have the lowest mental health score for the 13th consecutive month. Thirty-four per cent of students indicate that isolation has been the most difficult for their mental health. Other difficulties affecting students’ mental health include changes in income, online courses and lacking job prospects after graduation.

Children have also been impacted by the pandemic, no matter the age. Fifteen per cent of parents report a decline in the mental health of their school-age children (ages six to 12) compared to before the pandemic. Nineteen per cent of parents report a decline in the mental health of their high-school-age children (ages 13 to 18).

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Lifeworks also found Canadians need clarity on return-to-work plans from their employers. Twenty-five per cent of Canadians are unclear of their employer’s plans and another 12 per cent do not believe that their employer has a plan.

“The mental health and wellbeing of a population is essential to overall health and work productivity,” reads the report.

Lifeworks has published the Mental Health Index report monthly since April 2020, measuring data against benchmarks from the years leading up to the pandemic. It tracks the change in overall mental health in Canada, the level of reported mental stress and specific impacts of current events in the community.

Data for the report is collected through an online survey of 3,000 Canadians who are currently employed or have been employed within the last six months. The same respondents take part each month to remove a sampling bias and they are asked to consider the prior two weeks when answering each question.

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