Between 2019 and 2021, mental-health drug claims skyrocketed among young Canadians, according to a new report by Sun Life Financial Inc.

The report, which identified trends using the insurer’s data, found a 24 per cent increase in drug claims to treat mental-health disorders for people aged 30 and under. On the other hand, drug claims to treat the mental health of adults aged 30 to 39 rose 13 per cent. In total, 16 per cent of Sun Life’s total drug claims in 2021 were for mental-health disorders. And the report found a 51 per cent increase in mental-health paramedical claims for people under age 35.

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“Having open and supportive conversations around mental health is a critical first step,” said Dr. Sam Mikail, director of mental-health solutions at Sun Life, in a press release. “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.”

The report also found mental-health disorders continue to be the main driver of disability claims, with more than half of these claims for those under age 44 for mental disorders. It also noted quicker recoveries and better long-term outcomes are often seen by those with early access to care.

“The need for mental-health support is huge and continues to grow,” said Marie-Chantal Côté, senior vice-president of group benefits at Sun Life, in the release. “We have an important role to play and are working to provide access to quality treatment through workplace benefits plans across Canada.

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