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Medical visits related to mental health on the rise

By Mathieu Carbasse | February 01 2016 10:07AM

According to a new survey conducted by Morneau Shepell, 63% of doctors say that depression, anxiety disorders, and stress-related problems were the fastest growing reasons for seeing patients over the last two or three years.

What's more, depression now ranks equally with high blood pressure among the main reasons for medical consultation in Canada. For 24% of the physicians surveyed, depression was the number one reason for consultation. This cause is tied with high blood pressure for first place, which was the main reason for consultation among a different 24% of doctors.

Significant effect on the workplace

The national survey also revealed that the vast majority (82%) of employees who indicated that they were struggling with mental health problems and two-thirds (67%) of those who reported symptoms of stress said that it had affected their work. In comparison, only half (53%) of employees who reported physical health problems stated that this had an effect on their performance at work.

"Each year, we see an increase in employees seeking support for stress and anxiety – conditions that are attributable to everything from the uncertainty of an unstable economy to difficulties in a personal relationship," says Alan Torrie, president and CEO of Morneau Shepell. "These concerns often have a negative effect on workplace productivity. On the other hand, employers who offer mental wellness support often see a strong relationship between mental health and engagement at work."

Engagement promotes good mental health

The report shows that over two-thirds (67%) of highly engaged employees have excellent or very good mental health, compared with less than half (35%) of those employees who are not engaged.

In addition, the survey found that workplace stress had a greater effect on engagement than personal stress. Almost half (47%) of the employees who are not engaged experience extreme states of stress at work, but less than one in five (18%) of unengaged employees reported instances of extreme personal stress.

Among the various causes of stress at work, 60% of employees said that they were mainly due to emotional or interpersonal problems. In comparison, for nearly half (43%) of employees, stress in the workplace was caused by work-related problems and only 14% indicated that issues associated with physical labour were a source of workplace stress.

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