November 16, 2020 – Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC) recently released the results of the third study in their year-long series of surveys devoted to tracking and exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on Canadians’ mental health. MHRC’s previous studies were conducted in April and August, 2020.
Among the key findings in this latest survey, Canadians report that spending time outside (39%) is having a more positive effect on their mental health than any other activity. This may raises the question: How will winter weather and another possible lockdown affect Canadians and their mental well-being?
Other major findings of this study include:
- Self-rated anxiety and depression rose dramatically when the pandemic started, but the rates remain relatively stable despite changing COVID-19 case counts and restrictions across Canada. Levels of anxiety and depression are still, respectively, four times and two times pre-pandemic levels. (MHRC’s study validates self-rated mental health scores using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale.) Following the COVID-19 outbreak, the proportion of Canadians reporting high levels of anxiety increased from 5% to 20%. As time has continued, 21% still say they have high anxiety. The proportion of Canadians reporting high depression doubled following the COVID outbreak (12%) and remains at this level.
- Those Canadians who indicated a low degree of adherence to COVID-19 regulations report a high degree of anxiety and especially depression compared to those who actively adhere to these regulations. Those Canadians not adhering also report a higher degree of negative mental health due to the economic downturn resulting from COVID-19 (56% compared to overall response of 44%). This group indicates that the primary driver of their negative mental health is economic concerns.
- Other cohorts who are reporting high levels of anxiety and depression include youth aged 18-34 and health care workers.
These are just some of the results from this latest survey, based on an online survey conducted among a randomly-selected, reliable sample of N=2,004 adult Canadians from October 22-28, 2020. On behalf of MHRC, Pollara Strategic Insights designed, conducted, and analysed the results of this survey and the previous surveys in this ongoing series. The next survey in this series will be fielded in December.