News releases

May 11, 2020

Social isolation is taking a toll on Canadians' mental health

More than half of Canadians experiencing mental health issues during COVID-19

Sun Life Financial Inc. (CNW Group/Sun Life Financial Inc.)

TORONTO, May 11, 2020 /CNW/ - Millions of Canadians haven't left their homes in weeks. For many, the only outing is going to the grocery store or popping into a pharmacy. In a recent survey of Canadians conducted by Sun Life, 56% said COVID-19 is having a negative impact on their mental health, with social isolation the top contributing factor.

Interestingly, the Sun Life survey reveals COVID-19 is having a greater negative impact on the mental health of women (62%) compared to men (49%). As to what Canadians feel is contributing to their mental health challenges, a majority cite social isolation (66%). Other factors that are having an impact include:

  1. Concern for loved ones (57%)
  2. Fear of contracting COVID-19 (56%)
  3. Financial concerns (51%)


"The COVID-19 pandemic is the most serious public health emergency of our lifetime," said Jacques Goulet, President, Sun Life Canada and Lumino Health. "Canada was already facing a mental health crisis. The pandemic adds new layers of stress and we're deeply concerned about the long-term mental health implications that may follow. At Sun Life, we're focused on supporting our employees, advisors, Clients and all Canadians to manage their mental well-being."

Close to 60% of Canadians whose mental health has been negatively impacted said they are not receiving treatment or social support. When they were asked what barriers were stopping them from receiving support for their mental health, they listed:

  1. I can't afford it (22%)
  2. I don't know where to go or who to ask for help (17%)
  3. I am embarrassed to ask for help (12%)


"During the pandemic people are feeling a mix of emotions including anxiety, stress, fear and nervousness," said Dr. Sam Mikail, Director, Mental Health Solutions, Sun Life. "It's important to listen to your body, understand how you're feeling and reach out for help. Connecting with a friend or family is a great first step. But don't hesitate to seek professional advice. There are many resources either through your employee benefits or free in the community that can help you manage your mental health. We're all in this together."

Dr. Mikail offers the following advice for Canadians to help manage their mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  1. Look to see what extended health care benefits your employer offers, including Employee and Family Assistance Programs.
  2. Take advantage of free platforms such as Lumino Health, a tool that helps you search for trusted health care providers and offers health related resources.
  3. If you are living alone and are not physically vulnerable, be sure to get out at least once a day while following the recommended precautions.
  4. If you are living with other family members, give yourself permission to set some time for yourself. We all need some alone time.
  5. Stay connected to your support network using virtual technology and be honest about how you're feeling.  


For information and resources available to support mental wellness, visit our COVID-19 website:

About the survey
The survey is based on findings of an Ipsos poll conducted between April 29 and May 1, 2020. A sample of 1,000 Canadians was drawn from the Ipsos I-Say online panel aged 18 and older. The data for Canadians surveyed was weighted to ensure the sample's regional, age, and gender composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population.

The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll is accurate to within +/- 3.5% at 95% confidence level had all Canadian adults been polled. All sample surveys and polls may be subject to other sources of error, including, but not limited to methodological change, coverage error and measurement error.

About Sun Life
Sun Life is a leading international financial services organization providing insurance, wealth and asset management solutions to individual and corporate Clients. Sun Life has operations in a number of markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, Australia, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia and Bermuda. As of March 31, 2020, Sun Life had total assets under management of $1,023 billion. For more information, please visit

Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE) and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF.

Note to editors: All figures in Canadian dollars

Media Relations Contact:
Meredith Mundick
Manager, Corporate Communications
T. 416-979-4048


SOURCE Sun Life Financial Inc.