Despite the rise in public awareness of mental health issues, a recent survey from RBC Insurance suggests Canadians still hold a bias toward viewing disabilities as being largely physical rather than mental in nature.
While two in three surveyed say they see multiple sclerosis and physical accidents as disabilities, fewer than half feel the same way about depression and anxiety.
“There is a misconception that disabilities tend to be catastrophic in nature, caused by one-time, traumatic events," says Maria Winslow, senior director, life and health, 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.”
Despite Canadians' perception of mental illness, 30 per cent of working Canadians who have taken time off for a disability say it was because of a mental illness.
Winslow says it's important to raise awareness around mental illness and provide ongoing support so that Canadians are more comfortable speaking about their illness and being honest with their family, their friends and their employer.