Financial stress taking a toll on Canadians’ health

par The IJ Staff | March 24 2017 01:30PM

Two in five Canadians say they are financially unwell and this is having an impact on their overall health, according to the latest Manulife Financial Wellness Index released March 24.

These respondents are concerned by debt (82 per cent), not saving for retirement (60 per cent), and are stressed (67 per cent) due to their financial situation. Eighty-three per cent said they are not financially prepared to protect their loved ones in the event of their death, or if they were struck by serious illness or disability.

Affects overall wellbeing

“Looking at people’s wellness has traditionally included physical aspects, and in recent years focused more on emotional health,” said Sue Reibel, executive vice-president and general manager, Institutional Markets, Manulife. “Our findings show that the role of financial wellness, whether good or bad, affects overall wellbeing and is an important contributor to helping Canadians reach positive emotional health.”

Manulife says financial wellness relates to how someone “manages their overall financial situation, including budgeting, retirement planning, investing, debt management, financial protection and financial stress.”

Absenteeism rates and lost productivity

The insurance company’s research indicates that money continues to be “the greatest source of stress.” This stress affects an individual’s mental health which can lead to absenteeism and lost productivity at work. Financially stressed Canadians are eight times more likely to have bad stress levels and may be distracted at work (49 per cent, often/sometimes), according to Manulife’s study.

Healthy finances and lifestyle

Meanwhile, individuals who consider themselves financially well are also more likely to better manage their health, says the study. “Canadians who say they are financially well are more likely to say that their physical health is excellent (25 per cent) or good (45 per cent), they eat more fruits and vegetables (79 per cent), get more exercise (68 per cent), get regular health checkups (61 per cent) and educate themselves on being healthier (46 per cent).