90% of Young Canadians Experience Economic Stress

90 per cent of young Canadians are financially stressed.Financially speaking, Canadians are a stressed out bunch, according to the Sun Life Canadian Health Index.

According to the index, a full 90 per cent of Canadians 18-24 are “experiencing excessive stress” and 72 per cent of adult Canadians are also feeling overwhelmed.

The survey cites a shaky economy and underemployment as the likely catalysts for the cloud of stress hanging over young Canadians.

Financial Stress Linked to Disability Insurance Claims

“We’re concerned to see the impact of economic instability on young Canadians with nine in 10 feeling excessively stressed,” said Kevin Dougherty, President, Sun Life Financial Canada. “This finding is consistent with what we are seeing is our disability claims business – for Canadians age 30 and under, 40 per cent of their long term disability claims relate to mental health.”

Lack of Support to Blame

In addition to feeling excessive stress, 37 per cent of 18 to 24-year-olds don’t have the support they need to manage the stress in their lives. In addition to finance-related stress, Canadians also cited personal relationships and personal health issues as top sources of anxiety.

Underemployment is Main Stress Factor

With unemployment rife in the wake of near constant economic turmoil and looming debt, many young Canadians are finding themselves bearing the brunt of the changing employment landscape, and finding themselves increasingly underemployed, or without jobs completely.

According to the index, 39 per cent of young Canadians (18-24 years old) feel “under-utilized.”

And it’s not just young people, 30 per cent of Canadians say they are underemployed, under-utilized and not able to make full use of their skills and abilities

“These results are consistent with Canada’s national unemployment rate sitting at close to 15 per cent for Canadians under 25, more than twice the Canadian average,” said Louis Theriault, Director, Health Economics at the Conference Board of Canada in a press release. “It is more difficult for young Canadians to find permanent full-time jobs that suit their skills and areas of study.”

Theriault points to the recent domination of the job market by part-time work – a growing trend in Canada.

“This impacts younger workers in particular and contributes to their higher stress level,” adds Theriault, in the release.

Full Time Work Associated With Good Mental Health

Having gainful and stable employment is seemingly a key factor to mental health according to the survey. Seventy-five per cent of Canadians who hold full-time jobs rate their emotional health as very good or excellent while only 67 per cent of part-time workers put themselves in the same category.

As for unemployed, just over half (56 percent) rate their emotional health is very good or excellent.

“This report endorses the belief that employment has a positive effect on one’s overall health,” said Dr. Ian Arnold, recently retired Chair of the Workforce Advisory Committee for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. “Positive elements that are attributed to having a full-time job do help to keep illnesses at bay and Canadians optimistic while maintaining a healthy lifestyle.”

But many Canadians (a full 80 per cent) feel that stress management should be a dual effort between employers and the employed.

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