In a year when the global pandemic has sent stress levels soaring, Canadians who have had experience with mental health challenges, or taking time off for disabilities, are more likely to see mental health illnesses as a disability. While half (51%) of Canadians view issues such as depression or anxiety as a disability, this proportion is significantly higher among those who have familiarity with taking time off work for a disability (59%) compared to those who don’t know anyone or have not taken time off themselves (39%), according to a recent poll by RBC Insurance.
“Diagnosed depression and anxiety can indeed be debilitating, but the findings show that most of us don’t truly understand the impact of something until we’ve experienced it ourselves,” says Maria Winslow, Senior Director, Life & Health, RBC Insurance. “There is still a large portion of Canadians who do not consider the sometimes ‘invisible’ ailments of depression and anxiety as disabilities, yet, mental illness causes the majority of disability claims at RBC Insurance.”
The survey indicates that a personal history experiencing disability also affects attitudes towards disability insurance. Canadians who have seen the impact of taking time off for a disability are more likely to deem disability coverage more important, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Specifically, a quarter of respondents say buying disability coverage is more important to them since the pandemic, while one-in-five say they are more likely to purchase this coverage since COVID-19.
However, Canadians recognize the toll that not disclosing a mental illness can take on oneself and those around them. Seven-in-ten believe it would have a negative impact on their own personal wellbeing, while two-thirds feel there are negative consequences for family and friend relationships. Not only are personal relationships at home affected, but those surveyed also feel that there is a negative impact on work productivity (67%) and co-worker relationships (65%).
In general, Canadians are increasingly purchasing their own disability insurance, which provides money that can replace lost income. Nearly a quarter (23%) of Canadians have purchased their own disability coverage, up 8 points from last year, meaning more than half (55%) of Canadians now have coverage either through their workplace benefits or an individual disability plan, compared to 50% in 2019.