Nearly one-quarter of Canadians are grappling with mental health issues thanks to their jobs, a new report finds.

The LifeWorks Mental Health Index, a mental health database, for October found there is a negative mental health score among Canadians for the 19th consecutive month.

“Our research shows that the impact of the pandemic has not only negatively impacted mental health but also workplace relationships,” said LifeWorks president and CEO Stephen Liptrap in a press release. “This is concerning as both are major factors in overall wellbeing and work productivity.” 

Liptrap said the coming months will be a critical period for employee well-being.

The LifeWorks Mental Health Index claimed the overall mental health score among Canadians is -10.2 compared to the pre-pandemic benchmark, a slight improvement from September. 

About 24% of Canadians reported that work has hindered their mental wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic, an increase from 20% before the pandemic started. This group has a mental health score 10 points below the national average. 

There were 20% of respondents that reported they feel in crisis or have concerns about their ability to cope. These groups have mental health scores more than 20 points below the national average. 

A third of respondents under 40 indicated they feel in crisis or have concerns about their mental health or ability to cope, according to the index. About 12% of individuals 50 and older report the same. 

Parents are more than 50% more likely than non-parents to indicate that they feel in crisis or have concerns about their mental health and their ability to cope. 

Managers are more than 70% more likely than non-managers to report the same concerns. 

The index said 10% of respondents report their work experiences with peers have not been positive since the pandemic started, an increase of 4% since before the pandemic. This group has the least favourable mental health score. 

There were 11% of respondents that claimed their experiences with their manager have not been positive since the pandemic began, an increase of 2% since before the pandemic. These strained relationships have resulted in a productivity score more than 16 points below the national average. 

LifeWorks senior vice president, research and total wellbeing Paula Allen said that ways of working and many of the connections supporting wellbeing have changed. 

“The finding that more of us indicate that work hinders wellbeing is concerning and needs to be addressed,” said Allen. “Digital tools and manager training are two practical ways to integrate well-being into today’s work.” 

Allen said as businesses reshape how they operate, the most successful organizations will invest in employee wellbeing and workplace relationships. 

The monthly survey by LifeWorks was conducted online in English and French from Oct. 6 to 12, 2021, with 3,000 respondents in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflects this population.

This data comes after worsening mental health indicators among children in Alberta is leading some doctors to call it a crisis. 

Doctors told the Edmonton Journal in November that diagnoses and severity of depression, anxiety, and eating disorders have increased by at least 20% in the last four months, and some of them believe the worst is coming soon. 

While COVID-19 restrictions are looser than they were one year ago, mental health issues stem from return-to-school stress, less social time, more screen time, and worries about the pandemic. 

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