Highlights:

  • Canadians still hold a bias toward viewing disabilities as being largely physical rather than mental in nature.
  • Yet, 30 per cent of Canadians who have taken time off because of a disability say it was for a mental illness.
  • For most Canadians, disability insurance isn’t something they think about in-depth until they need it.

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 recent survey from RBC Insurance. 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).

“There is a misconception that disabilities tend to be catastrophic in nature, caused by one-time, traumatic events,” explains Maria Winslow, senior director, life & 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.”

Many have already been impacted
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.

“It’s important that we continue 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,” adds Winslow.

Room to educate
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.

“When faced with a mental illness, the last thing you want to worry about is whether you have the proper coverage in place,” explains Winslow. “It’s important that Canadians not only ensure they have disability coverage, but that they understand the details of their policy. Find out how your plan defines a disability and what is and isn’t covered. For example, while some policies cover mental illness, others may not.”

Here are a few more tips to consider:

  • Ensure you have a trusted network in place such as family, friends or professionals you can reach out to for support when necessary.
  • Confirm you have adequate coverage. Some things to look for include how your plan defines a disability; does your plan provide valuable rehabilitation and return to work services; and if you’re covered for injury as well as illness.
  • Utilize programs and services that are available to you. For example, RBC Insurance offers their clients Onward by Best Doctors, a program that provides personal support and faster access to top mental health specialists.

About the RBC Insurance Survey
These are some of the findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between January 2nd and January 4th, 2018 on behalf of RBC Insurance. For this survey, a sample of 1,505 employed Canadians aged 18+ was interviewed. Weighting was then employed to balance demographics to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the adult population according to Census data and to provide results intended to approximate the sample universe. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the results are considered accurate to within ±3.0 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all working Canadian adults been polled. The credibility interval will be wider among subsets of the population. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to coverage error, and measurement error.

About RBC Insurance
RBC Insurance® offers a wide range of life, health, home, auto, travel, wealth and reinsurance advice and solutions, as well as creditor and business insurance services to individual, business and group clients. RBC Insurance is the brand name for the insurance operating entities of Royal Bank of Canada, one of North America’s leading diversified financial services companies. RBC Insurance is among the largest Canadian bank-owned insurance organizations, with approximately 2,500 employees who serve more than four million clients globally. For more information, please visit rbcinsurance.com.

SOURCE RBC Insurance

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