As the coronavirus pandemic drags on, it’s dragging down plan members mental and physical health, according to the 2021 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey.

About a third of plan members reported increased feelings of anxiety or sadness/depression, decreased physical fitness (34 per cent) and/or poorer eating habits (31 per cent) in the past year.

More than one in three (38 per cent) of all employee respondents said they were less active and 41 per cent said they’ve gained weight over the past 12 months. In contrast, more than two in three plan members said they either maintained (32 per cent) or increased (30 per cent) their activity levels. Fifteen per cent increased alcohol consumption and seven per cent increased recreational drug use.

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When it comes to mental health, those plan members that can’t work from home were more likely (41 per cent) to report increased feelings of anxiety or sadness, compared to 33 per cent of those working from home. Those with in-person jobs (36 per cent) said they had more trouble sleeping versus 26 per cent of remote workers.

And 22 per cent of all plan members reported increased pain/tension, followed by poorer interpersonal relationships (21 per cent), poorer work-life balance (20 per cent) and a decreased ability to concentrate or focus on work (19 per cent).

The survey also found the percentage of plan members who said their health was poor over the past year almost doubled to 13 per cent, up from eight per cent in the 2020 survey and the first notable increase since this question was first asked in 2018.

Additionally, 21 per cent of plan members that said they’re in poor health indicated their health benefits plan doesn’t meet their needs, up from 13 per cent a year ago. While only 46 per cent of those with poor health said their health benefits plan meets their needs extremely or very well, that rose to 69 per cent among those in good health.

Download the 2021 Benefits Canada Healthcare Survey report here.