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1 in 4 workers have been bothered by thoughts about self-harm or death in the past two weeks: Wysa

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July 11, 2024
By Talent Canada

An alarming 23 per cent of Canadian workers were bothered by thoughts of death or self-harm in the two weeks prior to being surveyed, according to a new report from Wysa.

The company, which offers AI-guided mental health solutions, found that number rose to 36 per cent when workers were asked if they’d been bothered by thoughts of death or self-harm in the last year.

Young people were especially at risk, with 56 per cent of Canadian workers between the ages of 18 and 24 experiencing thoughts of hurting themselves over the last year.

The results were gathered through an accredited third-party research platform which polled over 2,000 Canadian employees across all industries.

The data shows Canadian workers experience high rates of feelings commonly associated with severe depression and suicide risk while at work. This includes 36 per cent of employees experiencing emotional distance from others, 31 per cent feeling a sense of isolation or withdrawal, 29 per cent dealing with a sense of distraction or lack of humour, 28 per cent struggling with dwelling on the past, and 25 per cent experiencing a persistent feeling of hopelessness.

The data suggests workers worry about their colleagues and don’t feel their employers are offering adequate help. Only 43 per cent agree that their employer takes proactive steps to address employee mental health, and 36 per cent feel that their employer sees mental health as a personal or out-of-work matter.

The majority of Canadian employees (53%) are hoping for offers of professional mental health support from their employers, and one-quarter are interested in being offered access to digital mental health self-help tools.

“These statistics serve as a wake-up call for employers to recognize and address the mental health crisis within the workplace,” said Ramakant Vempati, president and co-founder at Wysa. “Even one person contemplating suicide or self-harm is too high. The average person will spend one-third of their lifetime at work, so companies have an opportunity to play a pivotal role in supporting individuals. Equipping the workplace with the tools and training to identify crises and provide critical interventions can prevent tragedies from occurring.”

The study polled workers from all industries and found an increased occurrence of thoughts of self-harm among Canadians working in the real estate industry.

Risks were also elevated for individuals working in the arts, entertainment and recreation (53 per cent), hospitality (48 per cent), social care (43 per cent), and retail (42 per cent).

The full “Colleagues in Crisis Report” can be found here.

The survey was conducted online between Feb. 19 and 23. A total of 6,413 respondents across the US, UK and Canada were surveyed. The survey targeted full and part-time employees. The sample was nationally representative of gender and region. Respondents were required to give additional consent after being told the subject matter of the research.

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