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Over a Third of Canada’s Disability Claims Related to Mental Illness


The world is currently in the grip of an unprecedented mental health crisis. According to the World Health Organization, 450 million people are suffering from mental illness. Mental illness is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and the impacts of this global crisis can be felt in all facets of life.

Unfortunately, Canadians are not immune to this mental health crisis. Throughout the country, there is a high prevalence of mental illness and increasingly fewer resources to properly address them. In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians will experience mental illness and 1 out of 2 Canadians will struggle with a mental health disorder before reaching the age of 40.

The shortage of resources to address mental health issues in Canada is a significant problem. There is a lack of access to mental health services, particularly in rural and remote areas, and long wait times for treatment can make it difficult for people to get the help they need. Additionally, there is a shortage of mental health professionals, particularly in certain areas of the country, and many people are not able to afford the cost of private treatment.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further increased the mental health crisis in Canada, as the isolation, loss of employment, and uncertainty caused by the pandemic have led to an increase in stress, anxiety, and depression. Furthermore, there is a significant stigma around mental health issues in Canada, which can make it difficult for people to seek help. Many people are reluctant to talk about their mental health problems or to seek treatment due to fear of discrimination or negative reactions from friends, family, or employers.

The mental health crisis has manifested itself in all aspects of daily life. One sector in which its impacts have been particularly disruptive is the workforce. According to new survey results, mental health issues are now the leading cause of workplace absences. Employee mental illness can lead to large losses in productivity, as well as workplace safety issues, higher rates of human error, more staffing turnover, organizational reputational damage, and loss of future revenue.

More and more employees are seeking relief from debilitating stress, burnout, anxiety, and depression. In 2022, more than one third of Canadian disability claims for employer-sponsored benefits were related to mental health issues. However, not all employees applying for disability benefits for their mental illness are able to easily access the financial support they desperately require.

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The Cost of the Canadian Mental Health Crisis

The financial cost of the mental health crisis is enormous. Each year, productivity losses, healthcare costs, and health-related reductions in qualities of life cost the Canadian economy over $50 billion. According to CAMH, each week, nearly half a million employed Canadians miss work due to mental illness.

In Canada, the cost of delivering disability benefits to employees suffering from mental health disorders far exceeds that cost of benefits provided to those with physical injuries or illnesses. In fact, mental illness accounts for 70% of total disability costs distributed throughout the country by employer-sponsored insurance plans.

Despite the fact that one in three disability claims are related to mental illness, actually receiving short or long-term disability benefits for a mental health issue is often a struggle. Insurance providers have a reputation for treating claims related to mental disorders with an increased level of scrutiny, often bordering on suspicion. This is largely because there are no objective, observable medical tests to prove the severity of a subjective condition, such as depression or anxiety. Instead, insurers are required to assess how these mental health conditions might impact a claimant’s ability to perform the duties of their job. If they find reasons to believe that a claimant should still be able to work despite their mental health complaints, the insurer could decide to deny the applicant’s disability claim. And these denials can further exacerbate the symptoms of an already debilitating mental illness.

If an employee is suffering from a serious mental health issue and their disability claim is denied, the impact on their overall quality of life can be significant. These individuals may choose to leave their jobs, placing them in precarious financial circumstances. Without the financial support that disability benefits provide, they may struggle to afford the costs associated with their mental health treatment, such as psychological counseling, medication, and other forms of therapy. This financial insecurity can make it even harder than it already is to access necessary care. Their economic barrier to accessing proper mental health services can make it more difficult to manage their condition.

Additionally, the stress and financial insecurity caused by a denied claim can also have an increasingly negative impact on their overall mental health. A denied disability claim can add to the burden of coping with a mental illness and can impact a claimant’s emotional and psychological well-being. Without the support of disability benefits, people who are no longer able to work may be forced to rely on other forms of assistance, such as crowd-funding campaigns, the charity of friends and family members, or other, less reliable forms of government assistance that may not fully meet their needs. In extreme situations, people who are unable to continue working because of their mental health conditions could lose their savings, their assets, and their homes. Indeed, poor mental health is the highest predictor of homelessness in Canada.

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What To Do if Your Disability Claim Was Denied

No one should be forced to choose between their health and their financial security. If your claim for disability benefits was denied even though your mental health condition makes it impossible for you to continue working, there are several steps you can take. These include:

  • Review the denial letter: The denial letter should indicate the specific reasons for the denial. Reviewing the letter can provide insight into what information or documentation is missing and what needs to be provided in order to appeal the decision.
  • Gather additional documentation: The initial claim may not have included all of the necessary documentation or medical evidence to support your case. Gather any additional medical records, treatment records, employer statements, and any other documentation that supports your disability claim and addresses how your condition makes working an impossibility.
  • File an appeal: The denial letter should include information on how to file an appeal. It is important to file an appeal within the allotted time frame (usually 90 days).
  • Seek legal assistance: Our Ontario long-term disability lawyers have combined decades’ worth of experience helping people in similar situations. Consider taking advantage of a free initial consultation by calling 1-800-JUSTICE.

Speak with Preszler Injury Lawyers About Your Claim Today

More and more Canadians are struggling under the burden of the mental health crisis. People whose mental health conditions prevent them from performing the duties of their job should be entitled to some relief.

Our Ontario long-term disability lawyers have helped numerous claimants successfully appeal their denied insurance claims. To learn how you might be able to recover the benefits you should be entitled to, schedule a free initial consultation with Preszler Injury Lawyers by contacting us today.

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