67% of working Canadians would use virtual tools for mental health: survey

More than two-thirds (67 per cent) of working Canadians said they’d use video chat, web or telephone-based health support to consult with a mental-health practitioner, up 17 percentage points since 2019, according to a new survey by RBC Insurance. 

The survey, which polled 1,001 employed or recently laid-off Canadians in July, also found the percentage of working Canadians who said they’d use video or telephone counselling also rose significantly, up 15 percentage points to 60 per cent this year.

While there was a rise in people open to using virtual tools to support their mental health, many of those surveyed said they were using free options, given the financial uncertainty caused by the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

Read: Mental health firmly in the spotlight due to impacts of coronavirus, says report

Almost half (46 per cent) of respondents said they were talking to friends or family, while an equal percentage said they were getting outside or going for a walk and 29 per cent said they were exercising, doing yoga or practicing meditation. In comparison, only three per cent said they were using paid options such as a meditation or wellness app.

The majority (62 per cent) of survey respondents ranked their mental health as excellent or good in July 2020, down from 66 per cent the previous year. But Canadians weren’t as positive when it came to personal finances, with less than half (45 per cent) ranking their financial health as excellent or good since the global pandemic started back in March. 

The survey also found working Canadians with insurance coverage of any kind — private, group or a combination of both — were more likely to rank their mental health as excellent or good (65 per cent with insurance versus 55 per cent without insurance) and their financial health as excellent or good (48 per cent with insurance versus 36 per cent without insurance).

Read: Supporting employees’ workplace health, financial wellness during coronavirus

“The negative impacts on mental health is worrisome, but workplace benefits and resources such as employee assistance programs, wellness programs and virtual care or telemedicine can help support working Canadians well-being, including their mental and financial health,” said Julie Gaudry, senior director of group insurance at RBC Insurance, in a press release.