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Mental health issues less likely to be seen as disabilities: Survey

MS, physical accidents seen as valid compared to depression, anxiety
| hrreporter.com
mental health
Thirty per cent of working Canadians who have taken time off for a disability say it was because of a mental illness, said RBC. Shutterstock

Despite the rise in public awareness of mental health issues, Canadians still hold a bias toward viewing disabilities as being largely physical rather than mental in nature, according to a survey from RBC Insurance of 1,505 workers.

While two in three view multiple sclerosis (65 per cent) and physical accidents (65 per cent) as disabilities, fewer than half feel the same way about depression (47 per cent) and anxiety (36 per cent).

In fact, 30 per cent of working Canadians who have taken time off for a disability say it was because of a mental illness, said RBC.

"There is a misconception that disabilities tend to be catastrophic in nature, caused by one-time, traumatic events," said Maria Winslow, senior director of life and health at RBC Insurance.

"What most Canadians don't realize is that mental illness causes the majority of disabilities. In fact, almost one-third of group disability claims at RBC Insurance are related to mental health, and that number is higher if you count physical disabilities that lead to mental health concerns."

While the majority of Canadians (82 per cent) with disability coverage feel they're well covered through their disability benefits, many don't fully understand the coverage they have:

•Nearly one-in-five (23 per cent) say they don't know anything beyond the fact that they have some sort of coverage.

•Only one-in-three (33 per cent) who currently have disability coverage say they understand the details “very well.”

•Half (52 per cent) know how their benefit plan defines a disability.

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