What's keeping Canadian workers up at night?

These coping mechanisms are helping to build employee resiliency

What's keeping Canadian workers up at night?

It’s not enough for business and HR leaders to recognise that mental health is on the decline because of COVID-19.

They need to “pinpoint specifics,” according to Canada’s leading mental health experts.

Only then can organisations find “tailored solutions” when caring for workers’ mental well-being, said Louise Bradley, president and CEO of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC).

“We cannot address the mental health impacts of COVID-19 if we don’t understand their root causes,” Bradley said.

From the start of the pandemic, 84% of Canadians – or more than four in five – have seen their mental health worsen, according to a survey from the MHCC and the Conference Board of Canada.

Read more: Almost all employees struggle with COVID-19 anxiety

Of the 15 mental health factors examined in the study, Canadian workers cited the following as having increased their worries throughout the crisis:

  • Family well-being (24%)
  • Personal future (23%)
  • Feelings of loneliness and isolation (21%)
  • Feelings of anxiety and fear (21%)
  • Low mood or depression (18%)
  • Employment status (18%)
  • Financial health (17%)
  • Physical health (16%)

But people who had at least one coping strategy – whether by staying fit or staying in contact with family or friends – reportedly worried less. Among Canadians’ top coping mechanisms were:

  • Communicating with friends and family through technology (75%)
  • Walking or jogging (68%)
  • Exercising (67%)
  • Streaming content online (64%)
  • Reading (50%)
  • Spending time with their pet (42%)

Others also asked professional help from:

  • Therapists, counsellors and psychologists (12%)
  • Telemedicine consultants (9%)
  • Online health trainers (8%)
  • Employee assistance programs (4%)
  • Online cognitive behavioural/psychological therapies (3%)

Read more: Mental health: Canadians more open to this emerging platform

Without proper support, however, some employees fall into harmful patterns of behaviour.

“People who experience mental duress and who have not learned or adopted healthy coping skills are more likely to engage in riskier coping activities like alcohol or drug use,” said Dr. Bill Howatt, research chief of health at the Conference Board of Canada.

“Employers can play a proactive role in providing employees access to resiliency and coping skills programs that can help them learn and master these skills,” Dr. Howatt said.

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