Considering the pandemic has now surpassed 11 months, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that Canadians mental health has been suffering for the last 10.
The latest Mental Health Index from Morneau Shepell gave Canadians a negative mental health score for the 10th consecutive month.
January’s score of -11.7 is nearly identical to December’s score of -11.8 and represents a continued decline in Canadians’ mental health compared to before the pandemic.
According to the data, January’s score has largely been attributed to struggles with isolation, as many provinces have been forced to reintroduce stay-at-home orders, curfews, and lockdowns due to a surging number of COVID-19 cases associated with a second wave of the virus.
“The winter blues are even more heightened this year with the pandemic and isolation impacting Canadians at an alarming rate across the country,” Stephen Liptrap, president and chief executive officer for Morneau Shepell, said in a news release.
“As we continue to navigate the day-to-day changes and uncertainties of the pandemic, we’re seeing Canadians struggle to maintain a positive mindset and find healthy balances in their work and personal lives. During these challenging months and over the long term, it is imperative that employers prioritize connection among employees to strengthen a sense of belonging and ensure workplace mental health remains a top business priority,” he continued.
Based on the findings, with a score of -26.7, full-time post-secondary students are suffering the most—largely due to constantly changing learning environments, a lack of available resources and support, as well as financial and future career uncertainty.
Additionally, as Canadians attempt to establish new routines to help them navigate life during the pandemic, 33 per cent said they are want to focus more on their mental health, indicating an increase in the perceived importance of mental health.
“While the mental health score of Canadians continues at a low level month-over-month, it is encouraging to see that a sizeable number of individuals are aware of their mental health struggles and are choosing to proactively prioritize their mental wellbeing,” Paula Allen, global leader and senior vice president, research and total wellbeing for Morneau Shepell, said in the same release.
“This is certainly a step in the right direction, however, it’s important to remember that awareness can only be as effective as the resources available to Canadians. Employers must make a conscious effort to put the needs and wellbeing of their employees first to ensure individuals feel heard, supported and empowered to prioritize their mental health now and in the future,” she continued.