Recession-Stressed Workers Need Employers' Support - New study shows increased anxiety in the workplace

    TORONTO, May 4 /CNW Telbec/ - They're stressed, anxious, worried about
their jobs. They're losing sleep and they're losing confidence in the economy.
Many Canadian employees are showing these and other signs of mental distress.
    According to the first results of the Desjardins Financial Security
National Health Survey released today for National Mental Health Week (May
4-10), during which Canadians are encouraged to "Invest in yourself", a
significant number of workers in Canada feel they have lost control of their
lives as the economic recession grinds on, unemployment numbers rise and
financial security appears to be evaporating.
    The study found that one-third of those surveyed say they are more
stressed now than a year ago. About 30 per cent of employees across Canada are
experiencing anxiety, losing sleep, and/or suffering from headaches, muscle
aches and other physical tension-symptoms which often precede more serious
    Among their worries, three of the most stressful aspects of their lives
are associated with their employment-money, workload and job security. The
vast majority (83 per cent) agree that they pay more attention to their
personal finances and spending habits now than prior to the recession.
    Employees appear to be working longer hours as 54 per cent feel the
current recession is having an impact on their work/life balance. As well, 43
per cent are now concerned about losing their jobs.
    Another sign that employees may be increasingly worried is their belief
that the recession will last much longer than most economists are predicting.
The survey found that 34 per cent believe the recession will last less than
one year, while 47 per cent believe it will go on longer than a year.
    "Clearly, many employees have lost confidence and this is showing up in
all kinds of ways that could lead to more serious mental health problems down
the road," said Dr. Taylor Alexander, CEO of the CMHA's National office.
    In response to this deteriorating situation, the Canadian Mental Health
Association (CMHA) is calling on all employers, in both the public and private
sectors, to broaden access to and funding for mental health programs in the
    "We're currently reaching tens of thousands of people across the country
through our programs, which give employers and employees alike the tools to
deal effectively with stress, anxiety and depression. But, we could do so much
more," said Dr. Alexander.
    Michele Nowski, Director, Disability Claims and Disability Management
with Desjardins Financial Security, noted that a stressed-out workplace
translates into increased presenteeism and absenteeism. This equates to
increased short term disability claims for both physical and mental health
issues. Mental health claims are the fastest growing category for days lost to
disability in Canada.
    "By investing in their workers, companies are investing in themselves. A
mentally healthy workplace typically has fewer disability claims, lower
absenteeism and better productivity," said Nowski. "It really becomes a
partnership between employees and employers because employees also have a
responsibility to manage their health and stress levels."
    This means giving their employees the tools to gain more control over
their lives-such as engaging them in open communications, working in teams to
find solutions, being supportive of those who are not coping well, offering
flex hours and promoting a healthy work/life balance.
    To tackle the rising incidence of workplace stress, employees need to
take responsibility as well. For example, they should be talking with their
employers when they see potential problems arising, maintaining their health,
and focusing on their accomplishments and goals. Or they could be proactively
exploring other career paths and networking to identify new job prospects.

    About the Survey

    SOM Surveys, Opinion Polls and Marketing conducted this web survey on
behalf of Desjardins Financial Security between March 30 and April 15, 2009.
In total, 1,062 interviews were conducted with a sample of Canadian workers
who work for a company or organization with at least 10 employees. The data
was weighted to reflect the distribution of the Canadian population in terms
of the country's main regions (Atlantic Provinces, Quebec, Ontario, the
Prairies, British-Columbia), and by the joint age-gender population
distribution in Quebec, Ontario and elsewhere in Canada. The data was also
weighted to reflect the population distribution in terms of mother tongue and
the proportion of adults who live alone in each of these same three regions.

    About Desjardins Financial Security

    Desjardins Financial Security, a subsidiary of Desjardins Group, the
largest integrated cooperative financial group in Canada, specializes in
providing life insurance, health insurance and retirement savings products to
individuals and groups. Every day, over five million Canadians rely on
Desjardins Financial Security to ensure their financial security. Desjardins
Financial Security employs 3,800 people and administers $19.7 billion in
assets from offices in several cities across the country, including Vancouver,
Calgary, Winnipeg, Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal, Québec, Lévis, Halifax and St.
John's. For more information please visit

    About the Canadian Mental Health Association

    The Canadian Mental Health Association National Office is a leading
national voluntary organization within the mental health sector. For more than
90 years, it has existed to promote the mental health of all people in Canada
and to serve mental health consumers, their families and friends through
education, public awareness, research, advocacy and direct services. In
addition to its National office, the CMHA has 11 provincial and territorial
Divisions and some 135 Branches and Regions in communities across Canada.
    To find more information about mental health, visit To view
Desjardins Financial Security's survey, visit

For further information:

For further information: or to arrange an interview, contact: Sarah
Twomey, Desjardins Financial Security, (416) 926-2700, Ext. 2015, Toll free:
1-877-906-5551, Ext. 2015, Virtual newsroom:; Rachel Sa, PR POST, (416)

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