Mental health claims rise dramatically for younger workers

'Those experiencing mental disorders may be more likely to seek support and go on disability leave'

Mental health claims rise dramatically for younger workers

Young workers are in greater need of mental health medication compared with other age groups, judging by a recent report.

From 2019 to 2021, the volume of mental disorder drug claims among those aged below 30 rose by 24 per cent, according to Sun Life, based on company data.

This far surpasses the increase in similar claims among 30- to 39-year-olds (13 per cent), 40- to 49-year-olds (nine per cent), 50- to 59-year-olds (zero per cent) and those older than 60 (three per cent).

A previous Mental Health Research Canada in 2022 found that Canadians aged 18 to 35 experiencing anxiety are more likely than other age groups to have symptoms of a severe mental disorder – 38 per cent compared with 27 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 years and 15 per cent of those 55+ years old.

“The incidence of mental disorder claims among young adults was on the rise before the pandemic. The pandemic exacerbated many of the stressors already experienced by young adults,” says Sun Life

Younger workers tend to be in more financially precarious situations, and their employment was more impacted by the pandemic compared with other workers, it says.

“Those experiencing mental disorders may be more likely to seek support and go on disability leave. This highlights the importance of access to mental health care. The research is clear that early treatment can lead to quicker recoveries and better long-term outcomes.”

Also, over half of disability claims among those under 35 years and between 35 and 44 are for mental disorders, says Sun Life.

Thirty per cent of workers would consider switching employers for better mental health support and resources, according to a previous report.

Helping the youth

Addressing the mental health problem of workers starts with bringing up the subject, says Sam Mikail, director for mental health solutions, Sun Life.

"Having open and supportive conversations around mental health is a critical first step. Research shows the severity and duration of mental disorders are reduced the sooner people access care. When it comes to mental health treatment, there is no one-size-fits all approach. Getting the right treatment at the right time from the right practitioner is key, whether it's working with your family doctor, a psychologist or your employee assistance program at work."

Also, to meet the mental health needs of young workers, employers must be proactive, says The Annie S. Casey Foundation.

“Pro­grams should encour­age men­tal health screen­ings for new par­tic­i­pants and increase train­ing for pro­gram staff so they can iden­ti­fy men­tal health warn­ing signs among young people,” it says.

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