TELUS Mental Health Index reveals two-in-five workers in Canada do not know what an Employee Assistance Program is

Despite no cost to workers, more than one-in-four (27 per cent) cite cost as a major barrier in using their company’s EAP

TORONTO, Sept. 25, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TELUS Health today released its monthly TELUS Mental Health Index, revealing that two-in-five workers in Canada are unfamiliar with the purpose of an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) - also known as an Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) - and what it offers. Workers who reported being familiar with an EAP and what it offers had a higher mental health score than those who did not. The Index also found that despite no cost to workers, more than 27 per cent cite cost as a major barrier in using EAPs.

“Employee Assistance Programs provide a wealth of mental health resources and support for employees and their families, but the fact that 40 per cent of workers don't understand the purpose of these programs creates a significant gap in utilization,” said Juggy Sihota, Chief Growth Officer, TELUS Health. “While EAPs have existed for a long time, we also cannot assume employees understand how to access or use them. Companies can demonstrate stronger support for their employees' wellbeing by offering a steady stream of education and information about EAPs to address this gap, to help drive utilization and to increase productivity.”

Underutilization of EAPs directly linked to lack of awareness among employees.

  • Among workers who would not use or don’t think they would use an EAP, 34 per cent do not know what it covers, 23 per cent are concerned about confidentiality, and 21 per cent do not know how to access the service.
  • Thirty-five per cent of workers are familiar with an EAP and what it covers.
  • Workers who know what an EAP is and what it offers have the highest mental health score (66.3), nearly three points higher than workers who do not know what an EAP (63.5) is and nearly two points higher than the national average (64.6).

Nearly one-third of workers report affordability as the main barrier to accessing mental health support, followed by lack of available care and long wait times.

  • Workers under 40 are 80 per cent more likely than workers over 50 to have reported affordability as a barrier to accessing mental health support.
  • The mental health scores of workers reporting affordability as a barrier to accessing mental health support is more than 23 points lower than workers reporting no barriers or no need for support.
  • Parents are 40 per cent more likely than non-parents to have reported affordability as a barrier to accessing mental health support.

“When people become aware of the opportunity to access free, confidential counselling through an Employee Assistance Program, they are often thrilled. They also deeply appreciate the support their organization provides for this service,” said Paula Allen, Global Leader, Research & Client Insights, TELUS Health. “Many are not aware that the offerings in an EAP extend far beyond counseling to include resources like financial, legal and family support, as well as round-the-clock crisis support available throughout the year. While an EAP serves as a fundamental resource, we’ve gone the extra mile by introducing Total Mental Health - a solution that offers everything in an EAP plus care navigation and sustained guided support on a long-term basis. With an EAP and Total Mental Health, the support available to employees is better than it ever has been, but the challenge of widespread awareness remains.”

After reaching its peak in July, the mental health score of workers in Canada declined more than half a point in August 2023, to 64.6.

The August TELUS Mental Health Index also includes important findings related to caregivers and vacation policies. Read the full Canadian TELUS Mental Health Index report findings here.

About the TELUS Mental Health Index
The survey by TELUS Health was conducted through an online survey in English and French from August 4 and August 18, 2023 with 3,000 respondents. All respondents reside in Canada and were employed within the last six months. The data has been statistically weighted to ensure the regional and gender composition of the sample reflects this population.

The TELUS Mental Health Index is based on a response scoring system that then turns individual responses into point values. Higher point values are associated with better mental health and less mental health risk. Scores between 0 to 49 correspond with distress levels, scores between 50 to 79 correspond with strain levels and scores between 80 to 100 correspond with optimal levels of mental health.

About TELUS Health
TELUS Health is a global healthcare leader serving people in more than 160 countries delivering both digital innovation and clinical services to improve total physical, mental and financial health and wellness across the full spectrum of primary and preventive care. By leveraging the power of technology to deliver connected solutions and services both in-person and virtually, TELUS Health is improving access to care and revolutionizing the flow of information while facilitating collaboration, efficiency, and productivity for physicians, pharmacists, health authorities, allied healthcare professionals, insurers, employers and people globally, progressing its vision of transforming healthcare and empowering people to live healthier lives.

Our clinical team is composed of renowned and passionate health professionals around the world delivering best-in-class people-centric care to hundreds of thousands of employers, professionals and their families.

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Media contact:

Marielle Hossack
TELUS Health Media Relations