COVID-19 PANDEMIC’S AFFECT ON CANADIAN EMPLOYEES’ MENTAL HEALTH

By: Patricia Godina, Kabi Moulitharan & Afifa Umair

2020 SAW SIGNIFICANT DECREASE IN MENTAL HEALTH FOR CANADIAN EMPLOYEES

By: Kabi Moulitharan

The Mental Health Index report for Canada, released in December 2020 by Morneau Shepell, shows a significant decrease in the mental health of Canadians while working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Less than half of respondents say the most stressful part of work during the pandemic was adjusting to new health and safety protocols. Almost a quarter of respondents report they felt overworked. And, 28% of respondents say they considered leaving their job.

Vet Technician quits job due to a lack of understanding of mental health needs from employer 

Image of Alexandra Godina / Photo Credit: Patricia Godina

Alexandra Godina, a veterinary technician, quit her job last month because of heightened panic attacks. Her cousin, journalism student Patricia Godina, speaks with Alexandra about her decision.

“At the start of the pandemic, it was pretty much almost every night," says Alexandra Godina. "When I was first working during the first month of being an essential worker, I was waking up every night with cold sweats and couldn’t sleep.”

When Godina addressed the situation to her employer, she says her needs weren’t taken seriously.

“Two of my employers were making fun of my anxiety and panic disorder. And they said some really not nice things about how I don’t take anything seriously and just always have panic attacks," says Godina.

Godina hoped her employer would be accommodating and flexible with her mental health needs. Instead, she experienced additional stress from her employer.

Godina is one of many Canadian employees navigating increased mental strain

The Mental health Index report concludes out of folks who considered leaving their job, 53% say they considered leaving due to mental stress/strain from work. Another 24% say it is because of how their employer’s handled pandemic protocols.

Plus, a recent study by Ipsos reported that Canadians from the ages 18-34 in specific regions such as Saskatchewan, Manitoba, and Ontario are suffering a massive increase of stress and anxiety. This includes anxiety in the workplace and homeschooling. 56% of people say their anxiety is heavier because of this pandemic. Also in this study, 58% of women go through more stress and anxiety than men  (52%).

Folks identified with mental health-related disabilities feel disadvantaged in the workforce

In January 2020, Statistics Canada says 52% of Canadians identified with a mental health-related disability believed they were disadvantaged in employment.

Alexandra Godina brainstorms ideas to improve mental health strategy with OAVT.  / Photo Credit: Patricia Godina

A significant gap is also seen between folks who identified having a mental health-related disability compared to those who do not. Only 46% of folks with a mental health-related disability were employed compared to 80% of folks without a disability were employed.

“I do really feel though there is a lack of advocacy from our associations,” says Godina.

Godina is in contact with the Ontario Association of Veterinary Technicians board members. She will be offering solutions on how to improve mental health support for their staff.

Patricia Godina interviews her cousin, Alexandra Godina. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION BY MORNEAU SHEPELL

By: Afifa Umair

Mental health strain takes a toll on this worker. / Photo Credit: Afifa Umair
Mental health strain takes a toll on this worker. / Photo Credit: Afifa Umair

Patricia Godina

Video Journalist & Editor

Kabi Moulitharan

Web Journalist, Researcher & Editor

Afifa Umair

Researcher & Editor

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