Mental health: Canadians more open to this emerging platform

Mental health: Canadians more open to this emerging platform

Mental health: Canadians more open to this emerging platform

Anxiety over the coronavirus pandemic is prompting Canadians to turn to a new frontier in mental health support: virtual care.

More than four in five Canadians (82%) strongly believe the emerging platform of virtual mental health care should be included in employee benefits plans, according to research from telehealth services provider Teladoc Health.

The COVID-19 crisis is thus pushing the conversation on mental health benefits to the forefront of public health discourse, analysts say.

READ MORE: Ontario expands mental health support amid COVID-19 crisis

There is now “advanced awareness and support for mental health on a broad scale, and specifically among employers who are making it a priority for their employees,” said Lew Levy, chief medical officer at Teladoc Health.

For one, clients are growing comfortable in their use of virtual care, the study shows. Six months earlier, only two in five workers in North America were said to be open to “remote forms of care”.

This may be part of a wider movement to promote better mental health among workers, and to be open and transparent about the struggles they face. Among Canadians with an employer-sponsored benefits plan, 66% are now aware of the mental health support services available to them.

These resources come at a crucial time – just as the pandemic continues to take a toll on people’s psychological well-being. Of those aged 18 to 34, for example, more than half (52%) report their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

READ MORE: Virtual coaching program to guide workers on mental health

But Canadian employers are also boosting support for their staff: 39% are offering additional mental health benefits; raising the discussion of mental health at work; and waiving fees for mental health support services.

“Seeking support to address mental health concerns is the new normal as more people choose not to bottle up their issues and keep them to themselves,” said Dr. Gustavo Kinrys, medical director and vice president of mental health services at Teladoc Health.

“The call for support is trending upward, and employers are working to help improve mental health education and awareness,” Dr. Kinrys said.

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