Once unspoken, hidden away in back rooms and stigmatized, mental illness is at long last “Emerging into the light”, and being recognized as the serious problem that it is.1 Whereas in the past most people with a mental illness suffered in silence,2 this is becoming less the case every day. More people than ever before, including celebrities, professionals, big corporations and mental health advocates are talking about mental illness, and bringing it into the public consciousness. 

The more we hear about this common condition affecting one in five Canadians,3 the more we realize that all but the most severe instances of mental illness can be successfully treated.4 To help meet this growing demand, Manulife’s Flexcare® Health and Dental Plans offer a mental health benefit to help cover the cost of treatment from a variety of specialized registered professionals including Psychologists, Marriage and Family Therapists, Social Workers and more. 

What is mental illness? 

Mental disorders are defined as conditions that cause distress or disability, mental or emotional dysfunction and behavioural issues that result in the suffering, pain, sadness, disability or in extreme cases, the death of a person.5

Common mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, personality disorders, alcohol and drug addiction and suicidal thoughts or behaviour. 

Statistics that paint a surprising picture 

  • Protect your family with Manulife’s Flexcare Health 
and Dental coverage. It’s customizable, covers exams, cleanings and more and can save you hundreds of dollars. 

  • Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians in their lifetime 

  • It is the number one cause of disability in Canada 

  • 70% of mental illnesses first appear in childhood or adolescence 

  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, education levels, incomes and cultures 

  • 8% of adults will experience major depression during their lives 

  • 5% of Canadians experience anxiety 
  • 10-20% of Canadian youths suffer from mental illness 
  • Only 1 in 5 youths receive treatment for it 
  • Mental illness can lead to suicidal thoughts and actions 
  • The suicide rate for Canada’s aboriginal youth is 6 times the national average 


CAMH, The Center for Addiction and Mental Health

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Fast Facts About Mental Illness

The two costs of mental illness 

There are not one, but two real costs when it comes to mental illness: personal and financial. While mental health issues are best-known for their effect on our health, happiness and well-being, they also have a major economic impact in the form of medical expenses, absenteeism and lost productivity. The Psychologists Association of Alberta states that the annual cost of mental illness in Canada is $51 billion.6

The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that almost half of people who experience depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about it.7 But this doesn’t need to be the case. After all why should mental health
care be a “luxury” accessible only to those with the financial means to afford it? Mental health care should be available to every person who needs it. 

Manulife’s Flexcare Health and Dental Plans can help make this possible. They are specifically designed to help meet the changing needs of Canadians including visits to registered Psychologists, registered Marriage and Family Therapists, registered Social Workers, and counsellors for eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse and much more, when prescribed by a physician. Plans are customizable, and could help save you hundreds of dollars a year in out-of-pocket health and dental costs. 

The personal toll

On a more personal level, mental illness can cause you to withdraw from your family, daily activities and social life. It can damage or destroy marriages, cause problems holding down a job, and affect interpersonal relationships. It’s estimated that in any given week, mental illness renders 500,000 Canadians unable to work.8 It can cause you to avoid exercise, engage in high-risk activities in the case of drug and substance abuse, and impair judgement. It can have legal consequences if civil or criminal acts are involved. At its most extreme, it can cause suicidal thoughts or actions, culminating in death. 

Alcohol and drug abuse is a common disorder affecting approximately 6 million people according to Statistics Canada.9 Counselling for alcohol and drug dependency is one of many mental health benefits offered by Manulife’s Flexcare Health and Dental Plans. 

Mental illness touches everyone 

Divorce rates in Canada currently reside at 48%, so it’s no surprise that more couples are seeking out the services of registered marriage therapists.10 Marital problems can be caused by a variety of factors, one of which is mental illness. In turn, marital problems can cause mental illness such as anxiety, depression and more. As mental illness becomes less stigmatized, more people are seeking treatment for common conditions such as anxiety and depression. 

Today, prescription medication and counselling are the first lines of defence in treating mental illnesses. Having Flexcare Health and Dental coverage from Manulife can help cover the cost of these and other important therapies, giving you and your family access to the care you need – and saving you money in the process. 

This article is part of a continuing series of informational articles about the issues impacting health care in Canada. Manulife offers a range of insurance and banking products to meet the changing needs of Canadians, including Health & Dental coverage.

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