47% of Canadian workers say their mental health is less than good.

Mental health distress from work regularly affects 6.5 million Canadian workers

OTTAWA -- Inflexible, unsupportive workplaces, work without much meaning, and jobs that don’t pay the bills are key factors causing regular mental distress to about 6.5 million Canadian workers, according to a poll commissioned by the Douglas Caldwell Layton Foundation.

Last month, the Douglas Coldwell Layton Foundation commissioned Abacus Data to conduct a national survey of 2,000 working Canadians to explore the impact that working conditions and personal finances have on mental health. The survey explored how Canadians feel about their own mental health, what workplace factors most impact self-assessed mental health, and the role unions play in mitigating negative workplace experiences.

Overall, 47 per cent of working Canadians, representing about 10 million people, report their mental health is less than good.

The poll of 2,000 working Canadians, conducted by Abacus Research last month, found nearly all Canadian workers surveyed have experienced mental distress due to work. Among those experiencing distress “occasionally”: 

  • 38% say their work leaves them feeling nervous, anxious, or on edge
  • 35% say they can’t stop worrying about work
  • 32% say they feel down, depressed, or hopeless about work
  • 29% say work makes them angry with co-workers or others. 

More concerning, 33 per cent of respondents, or about 6.5 million working Canadians, say on a regular basis they experience one or more of these forms of distress. Among all workers, 43 per cent said the problem is growing worse. Only 21 per cent said things are getting better.

The survey tested a wide range of workplace factors possibly causing distress, including difficult physical working conditions, poor equipment and demanding work. The factors most closely linked to mental health distress from work were:

  • workplaces with inflexible schedules or unsupportive of workers
  • work that doesn’t provide much meaning
  • a job that leaves them in financial insecurity.

Mental health distress from work is particularly intense among office workers. Those working with patients, students, clients or customers in front line jobs and those in on-site jobs, such as construction or manufacturing, were less likely to experience regular mental health distress from work.

“Our research shows millions of workers are struggling with their mental health today and it’s getting worse. That’s deeply concerning.'' said Josh Bizjak, Executive Director of the Douglas Caldwell Layton Foundation. “It’s simply not enough to talk about mental health, we must identify sources and find solutions to this mounting social and economic crisis - employers and policy makers need to take responsibility and play an active role.”

Click here to read the full report from the first phase of our original research on Mental Health and Wellness in the Workplace.

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