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RUOK Day – How are our Counsellors Coping?

Published by: TELUS Health,

At LifeWorks, when we ask RUOK? we’re asking everyone: our customers and their employees, our own employees, and our network of clinicians. Our counsellors are the backbone of LifeWorks, and so it’s crucial that those who are providing mental health support to our customers and their people are feeling supported themselves.

Our counsellors are incredibly skilled and knowledgeable clinicians, but they’re people too – and like all of us, they have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. They had to quickly accommodate a dramatic shift to virtual services, a heightened need for urgent support and an increase in the need for support surrounding more complex issues.

We wanted to check in on their overall mental health as they faced these changes, so we surveyed over 1000 counsellors using the Mental Health Index (MHI) survey. The MHI provides a measure of the change in the mental health status of employed adults over time in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia, using mental health scores from 2017-2019 as a benchmark.

The proportion of the general working population in the high-risk mental health category has nearly doubled (MHI CA April 2021), with Anxiety and Depression reported as major contributors.

LifeWorks counsellors in all regions exceeded the general working population MHI score. The survey results reported that LifeWorks counsellors are coping significantly better than the general population:

Country MHI score general MHI score LW
Australia -11.9 6.8
Canada -10.1 4.0
United Kingdom -10.9 6.4
United States -3.8 9.4


The overall Global MHI score for counsellors is 6.4.

Although coping better than the general population, the results do show a broad range that identifies that some of our counsellors are struggling with the impact of the pandemic.

The areas where counsellors are struggling the most include isolation (3.1) and optimism (7.6). Conversely, counsellors are thriving in work productivity and reported low experience with depression and fear of financial risk.

Furthermore, while 25-58% of the general population are re-evaluating career paths, only 17% of LifeWorks counsellors reported considering a career change.

While some counsellors are struggling, overall our counsellors displayed the ability to adapt to their new circumstances and continued to provide the utmost standard of care to the people they support.

In the feedback we received, the counsellors we surveyed appreciated the proactive help they received from LifeWorks to transition to virtual work arrangements and continue their business. Counsellors also reflected positively on their ability to help people who are struggling at a time of heightened need, and the societal recognition of the importance of mental health support.

Still, we recognize that the need for effective support doesn’t change, even if you’re the one providing it to others. We’re staying connected to our counsellor network and ensuring they have the support and resources they need to continue to feel supported as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.

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