October 01, 2021

Amidst resignation boom, new Sun Life survey finds employers must step up mental health support

One in 10 Canadians say they have left or have considered leaving a job over lack of mental health support

Sun Life Logo (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

TORONTO, Oct. 1, 2021 /CNW/ - While Canadian employers consider what the future of work looks like, Sun Life says that a mental health strategy must be part of the plan to help curb Canada's mental health crisis. A new Sun Life survey revealed that over half of Canadians continue to suffer from mental health challenges, 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet despite this, Sun Life's study shows companies – and leaders – are not stepping up enough with employee mental health support.

Mental health still not a safe workplace topic, trust in employers among top reason

Even while the majority of the country's workforce (62%) says emotional, mental and physical fatigue is the top issue affecting them negatively, a third of Canadians (37%) feel unsafe to talk about mental health at work. Lack of trust in their employer was among the top reasons (55%), with embarrassment (50%) and fear of discrimination following closely behind (40%). The survey also found that one in 10 working Canadians have left (11%) or have considered leaving their job (10%) due to a lack of employer mental health support. Additionally, only 22% said their CEO or manager had talked about mental health in the last 12 months.

"Companies across the country are considering their future of work plans, but Canadians have said – loud and clear – it's the future of our workforce we must consider," says Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Canada. "After 18 months of this pandemic, we continue to be in a mental health crisis, yet employees are still not getting the support they need at work. I will continue to re-convene my CEO and C-suite forum annually to keep tension on this crisis. If there was ever a time for Canadian leaders to renew their organization's vision and approach to employee mental health, it's now."

Leaders and employee resources key as part of comprehensive mental health strategy

Ahead of World Mental Health Day, Sun Life calls on Canadian companies to join them in a commitment to further invest in a workplace mental health strategy.

"Everyone deserves to feel safe at work and be their authentic selves. That starts with employers investing in workplace mental health to help build a more resilient Canada," says Dave Jones, President, Sun Life Health. "A comprehensive mental health plan should consider leadership, communication and education. Companies should review whether leaders talk openly about mental health, ensure employees know how to access resources, and equip managers to support teams. Ultimately, this drives better health outcomes, earlier in people's mental health journey."

Three easy actions companies can take to curb the crisis

Review your company's mental health benefits – Evaluate current mental health benefits, including whether employees have access to free online resources, employee assistance programs and adequate benefits coverage so they can seek care.

Take advantage of free resources – Don't know where to start? There are many free resources, such as Sun Life's free, digital mental health strategy toolkit, which guides employers through the fundamentals of developing a comprehensive workplace strategy – whether they're a small, medium or large business. Companies can also share Lumino Health's free, bilingual virtual health platform with employees. Available to everyone in Canada, it can help employees find and connect with the right mental health professional and access mental health and wellness articles.

Commit to talking about mental health at work – Leaders who speak openly about mental health at work can help cultivate a safe space for dialogue and encourage employees to take action. For help getting the conversation started, try Sun Life's free manager training videos.

About the survey
The survey is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between August 13 and 20, 2021. A sample of 1,500 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 June 30, 2021, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1.36 trillion. 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.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars                                                                       

Media Relations Contact:
Nadine Jahangir Gerrard
Director, Corporate Communications
T. 647.221.8283 

SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.