Nearly two-thirds (61 per cent) of Canadian employees say they volunteered their time or finances in the last two years, reporting an above-average mental-health score (65.6, compared to the national average of 64.6), according to Telus Health’s latest mental-health index.

The survey, which polled more than 3,000 workers, found the lowest average mental-health score (50.2) was reported by the smaller percentage (four per cent) of workers who said they feel intimidated by the process of volunteering.

More than a third (36 per cent) of respondents reported a positive perception of their employer for offering time off for volunteering. Among workers who volunteered, 31 per cent said their employer supported them by offering time off to volunteer.

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Overall, a third (32 per cent) of workers had a high mental-health risk, while 43 per cent had a moderate risk and 24 per cent had a low mental-health risk. The average mental-health score for managers declined slightly, from 65.3 to 65.1, while the mental health of non-managers improved slightly, from 64.2 to 64.3. Roughly a third of workers indicated their mental health has a negative impact on their productivity.

“The stark mental-health difference between employees who volunteer compared to others clearly shows how much of an effect participating in community service can have on well-being,” said Paula Allen, global leader of research and client insights at Telus Health, in a press release.

“When employers make time for their workforce to pursue passion projects and provide support both inside and outside the office, it reinforces their value and helps avoid isolation and burnout. Given the high proportion of workers who indicate that their mental health negatively impacts their work productivity, support for volunteering is valued now more than ever.”

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