Many Canadians relying on family and friends for mental health support during COVID-19

Five signs that may indicate you need additional support

Toronto, ON (June 1, 2020) – Canadians navigating COVID-19 are turning to family and friends to help them manage their mental health. In a recent survey by Sun Life, over half (56%) of Canadians surveyed said COVID-19 is negatively impacting their mental health. Of those respondents, less than half (42%) are currently seeking treatment or support.

For the respondents receiving treatment or support, they are managing their mental health by:

  • Reaching out to friends and family (64%)
  • Keeping busy at home (62%)
  • Accessing self-help (e.g. online or other resources) (40%)
  • And, seeking medical advice or treatment (31%)

“As Canadians continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re here to help them,” said Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Canada and Lumino Health. “Just as we manage our fitness and nutrition, we need to manage our mental well-being. It’s more important than ever to check in on yourself, and get the support you need before you have a serious mental health concern. We’re making it easier for all Canadians to manage their mental health through our Lumino Health platform.”

When it comes to how Canadians are managing their mental health, the Sun Life survey found differences across gender and age groups. For example, 45% of negatively impacted women said they are receiving treatment or support compared to only 38% of men.

Impacted Canadians 18-34 years of age managing their mental heath are the most likely to use self-help resources (52%), but are the least likely to access medical advice and treatment (25%). In comparison, only 20% of those 55 years of age and older are using self-help resources, but they are the most likely to access medical advice and treatment (54%).

Identifying the right support for you

With less than half of impacted Canadians receiving support or treatment, understanding when to seek professional help is more important than ever.

“Having a strong social network and talking with friends or family can be very therapeutic but sometimes more help may be needed,” said Dr. Sam Mikail, Director, Mental Health Solutions. “It’s important to understand how you are feeling and know the warning signs. Working with a health care practitioner can equip you with strategies to manage your mental health.”

Dr. Mikail recommends talking to a mental health professional if you are experiencing any of the following for longer than two weeks:

  1. Feeling sad, angry, or “not yourself”;
  2. Eating or sleeping more or less than usual;
  3. Withdrawing from family and friends;
  4. Using drugs, alcohol, or food as a means of coping;
  5. Having difficulty working through the loss of someone important to you.

A variety of resources including self-assessments are available on Lumino Health. This free platform available to all Canadians is a great place to explore support options. Lumino Health can direct you to resources that will meet your specific needs and provide access to counselling by phone, text or live chat. Look for the ‘virtual visits’ icon to easily identify health care providers who offer virtual care.

About the survey

The survey is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 29 and May 1, 2020. A sample of 1,000 Canadians was drawn from the Ipsos I-Say online panel aged 18 and older. The data for Canadians surveyed was weighted to ensure the sample’s regional, age, and gender composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5% at 95% confidence level had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.

About Sun Life

Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,023 billion. For more information, please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

SOURCE: Sun Life Financial Inc.

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