New national survey for Mental Health Research Canada reveals rising levels of anxiety and depression due to COVID-19 crisis

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May 19, 2020 – Mental Health Research Canada recently launched their year-long study, “Mental Health in Crisis: How COVID-19 Is Impacting Canadians,” with their first national survey of more than 1,800 adult Canadians. The objective of this research program – which will continue with regular tracking surveys – is to generate solid data that will help policy makers, governments, and service delivery agents tailor programs to meet the needs of Canadians during the current crisis.  

Conducted on behalf of MHRC by Pollara Strategic Insights, the results reveal public perceptions of their level of anxiety and depression before and during the current crisis. The study identifies the health, economic, employment, and lifestyle factors that Canadians feel are positively and negatively influencing their mental health. It also captures reported increases in consumption of alcohol, cannabis, and illegal drugs.    

Some of the study’s findings include:  

  • High levels of anxiety have quadrupled and high levels of depression have doubled.
  • Residents of Atlantic Canada and Ontario report highest increases in anxiety (+28% and +27%, respectively), with the Prairies reporting the lowest increase (+20%). Similarly, reported increases in depression levels are highest in Atlantic Canada (+13%) and Ontario (+12%); with Quebec reporting the lowest increase (+5%).
  • Nearly half of Canadians diagnosed with an anxiety disorder (48%) or depression (45%) feel the positive impacts of communicating with friends and family, but are also feeling the negative impacts of self-isolation (44% both).
  • 57% of Canadians diagnosed with an anxiety disorder or depression accessed mental health supports before the outbreak. Of these Canadians, 45% currently access mental health supports.
  • 57% of recently unemployed Canadians report their mental health has been negatively impacted by job loss.
  • Canadians with children are much more likely to report that interactions with family members in their household are having a positive impact on their mental health (46%) than those without children (26%).
  • Canadians report an increase in consumption of alcohol and cannabis since the outbreak, but feel the impact on their mental health is relatively neutral at this point.
  • Canadians with children younger than age 18 are more likely to increase their consumption of alcohol (36%) and illegal drugs (25%) since the outbreak than those without children (25% and 13%, respectively). Increased use of cannabis is about the same across both cohorts: those with children (31%); those without (29%).

Download and read the full report for this comprehensive survey at the MHRC website.  

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