Surge in mental health claims noted by Sun Life

Sun Life reports a significant rise in mental health claims among Canadians, highlighting increased support needs

Surge in mental health claims noted by Sun Life

Canada has been facing a mental health crisis, but recent data from Sun Life reveals a significant increase in people seeking help.  

According to Sun Life Group Benefits data, from 2019 to 2022, there was a nearly 70 percent increase in plan members claiming mental health practitioner services. In 2023 alone, these claims grew by 20 percent, doubling since 2019.   

This information comes from Sun Life's Designed for Health report, which analyzes paramedical and drug claims from over 3 million Canadians. The report identified that individuals aged 30-39 made the most claims, showing the largest increase in both claim growth and volume.  

Women's claims have risen by more than 37 percent compared to men's. Furthermore, mental health issues have become the leading cause of disability, with long-term disability claims accounting for 40 percent for women and 30 percent for men.  

Depression medication claims, particularly among those under 60, have seen a 40 percent increase since 2019, with a notable doubling in individuals under 30.   

Valerie Legendre, clinical psychologist, and director of Mental Health at Sun Life emphasized the importance of addressing mental health openly.  

“Over the last few years, the conversation around mental health has been front and centre. While there is still work to do to break the stigma, the data shows encouraging trends. Canadians are more open to talking about their mental health—they're reaching out to professionals and seeking the help they need,” she stated.  

Legendre also highlighted the crucial role of early intervention in managing mental health issues, which can lead to quicker recoveries and better long-term outcomes.   

The report also discusses the significant role workplaces play in supporting mental health. With an increasing number of Canadians seeking mental health support, enhancing access to care through workplace benefits plans has become more crucial.  

Many companies are expanding the list of covered mental health practitioners and increasing mental health coverage. They are also integrating innovative tools like Lumino Health Virtual Care powered by Dialogue and Mental Health Coach provided by CloudMD.  

The Mental Health Strategy Toolkit is another free resource helping employers support employee mental health effectively.   

Marie-Chantal Côté, senior vice-president of Group Benefits at Sun Life, commented, “Empowering employees to take charge of their mental health is critical. Workplaces have an important role to play, not only when it comes to offering mental health resources, but in creating safe and inclusive work environments.”  

She noted the positive impact of providing mental health support in workplaces on both employees and their organizations.