Sun Life Creates Health Division as Focuses on Growth of Mental Health Services

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Sun Life Financial Inc. has consolidated existing business units in its Canadian operations to create a new health division that will help address the lack of mental health support in the workplace.

Canada’s second-largest life insurer on Tuesday announced the launch of Sun Life Health, a new business unit that combines the company’s group insurance business with Lumino Health, a website and mobile app that connects Canadians to more of 150,000 health care providers.

Dave Jones, senior vice president of group benefits at Sun Life, has been named president of Sun Life Health, and says part of the new division’s goal will be to strengthen mental health support for Canadians.

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“We are 18 months away from a pandemic and Canadians still face enormous mental health challenges,” Jones said in an interview. “Yet they don’t feel that their workplaces are getting the support they need.”

Mental health is increasingly at the forefront of Canadian insurers and they are paying more attention to mental health issues in the workplace. The top three in Canada life insurers – which also include Manulife Financial Corp. and Great-West Lifeco Inc. Canada Life – have all launched Workplace Mental Health Strategies to provide Canadian employers with information on how to help employees in crisis.

But Sun Life Canada President Jacques Goulet says Canadian business leaders are still not doing enough and need to speak openly about mental health to make sure their employees know how to access resources.

In a Sun Life August study of 1,500 participants, only 22% said their CEO or manager had spoken about mental health in the past 12 months.

“Companies across the country are looking at the future of workplans, but Canadians have said – loud and clear – that it is the future of the workforce that we need to consider,” said Mr. Goulet in a press release. “If there has ever been a time for Canadian leaders to renew their organization’s vision and approach to employee mental health, it is now.

The study also found that about 37 percent of employees said they didn’t feel safe talking about mental health in the workplace, and that one in ten Canadians left or considered leaving their workplace. employment due to lack of mental health support.

Over 3.4 million employees and their dependents are covered through Sun Life group insurance. Mr Jones says there has been a “big increase” in the number of employees using their mental health benefits since the onset of COVID-19, as well as an increased prevalence of mental health problems among Canadians who are absent from work due to disability.

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“But we’re also seeing huge demand for businesses to do more – for example by increasing a coverage limit of $ 500 so that people who really need these kinds of services can get the level of care they really need. need, ”Jones added.

Sun Life Health will also provide health care services to Sun Life clients outside of the its group benefit plans – including individual wealth and insurance clients, as well as those who independently access Lumino Health.

Lumino Health was launched in 2018 and provides a directory of over 150,000 practitioners – such as dentists, massage therapists, chiropractors, and psychologists – that allows any user to compare costs, locations, and published provider ratings. by other users.

The search engine has been used over 11 million times. During the pandemic, mental health professionals have become one of the main services Canadians look for in the Lumino app, surpassing massage therapy research, which was number one in previous ones. years.

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