Skip to main content

The Connection Between Disability, Mental Health, and the Future of Benefits

By: Benefits by Design | Tuesday May 25, 2021

Updated : Wednesday November 16, 2022

We’ve talked a lot about the mental health crisis in Canada over the last few years. But there’s another trend in Canada that is closely linked: rising disability claims. The two are so closely connected that to talk about one without the other would be a disservice.

Let’s take a close, hard look at disability and mental health in Canada and ask ourselves, “How does this knowledge impact the future of employee benefits?”

What’s happening in Canada?

First off, let’s establish the basics:

Right off the bat, the connection is made. As mental health worsens (bad) and as stigma around the topic is chipped away (good), we can expect disability claims to increase alongside them.

Mental Illness Awareness and the Overall Mental Health of Canadians

Canada’s Mental Health Crisis and COVID-19

Even before COVID-19, experts were anticipating Canada’s mental health problems to worsen rather than improve. Now, in the wake of the global pandemic, anxiety, depression, and isolation are at an all-time high, leaving employers and working Canadians in a tough spot.

Managing Your Workplace Health During (And After) A Pandemic

Poor mental health has many negative impacts, both on an individual and on a business as a whole, including:

Employers not only have an obligation to protect employee’s mental health, it’s in their best interests. What’s more, working Canadians overwhelmingly agree that their employer has a role to play in supporting and maintaining their mental health. 

Rising Disability Claims in Canada

The number of Canadians claiming disability insurance has been increasing year-over-year for a while now. There are many contributing factors to this trend. However, an increase in mental health claims appears to be one of the most significant.

Among the many reasons for the rise in mental health claims are:

Addressing the Troubling Trend of Rising Disability Claims in Canada

The decline in stigma around mental health is worth exploring a bit more. Although it is true that reduced stigma is leading to an increase in mental health claims, it’s important to note that this is actually a good thing. In this case, people aren’t claiming more because they’re feeling more stressed or anxious, but because they’re feeling more comfortable seeking help. That’s a win!

Workplace Accommodation for Disability in Canada

The Future of Employee Benefits

So with worsening mental health and rising disability claims, the question has to be asked — what does this mean for the future of employee benefits? How will benefits plans be affected?

Although we don’t have a crystal ball, there are some educated guesses that we can draw, based on everything we’ve discussed so far:

Looking to support employees’ mental health in the future? An EAP is a great place to start.

Learn More About EAPs