Canadians’ self-rated mental health at worst level since pandemic: Report

Comprehensive support systems, proactive measures needed to safeguard well-being of all Canadians, says expert

Canadians’ self-rated mental health at worst level since pandemic: Report

Canadians’ perception of their mental health is at its worst since the end of the pandemic, according to a recent report from Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC).

Overall, more than one in 10 Canadians report high self-rated anxiety or depression.

“Questions about screen time reveal a significant correlation between a high amount of personal screen time and negative mental health indicators,” says MHRC.

Overall, 23 per cent of workers in Canada have taken medication for their mental health. Among these workers, however, nearly half (46 per cent) have had to try more than one medication or dosage to treat their condition, according to a previous TELUS Health report.

What are the factors that affect wellbeing?

Numerous factors play a role in this concerning trend, according to MHRC’s survey of 3,224 adult Canadians between Jan. 15 and 24, 2024.

Two-fifths of Canadians still feel that the economic downturn is impacting their mental health.

Also, 70% percent Canadians are concerned about climate change, and 34% report that it has some negative impact on their mental health – including 5% say who it has a strong negative impact.

And over one of four (26%) of young Canadians spend six or more hours of their personal time on screens per day.

“While the negative impact of daily news on mental health is slightly better than during the pandemic, the impact of social media has worsened,” says MHRC.

Also, more than one in four Canadians (27%) currently live with chronic pain, with the majority reporting that it has a daily, debilitating impact on their lives.

Recently, Bell Let's Talk kicked off a new campaign to inspire real change to positively impact mental health. The “Let's create real change” campaign asks employers, workers and everyone else to play a role to create change at workplaces and even homes, schools and communities.

Why it's important to talk about mental health

One-in-five (21%) of Canadians have either accessed mental health support in the past year (15%) or feel they should be accessing support (6%).  

“This rate of need rose last quarter and remains elevated when looking at post-pandemic indicators,” says MHRC.

With these numbers, urgent action from employers and other stakeholders is needed, says Akela Peoples, CEO, MHRC.

“It's evident that addressing mental health concerns in Canada is paramount. These findings underscore the urgent need for comprehensive support systems and proactive measures to safeguard the well-being of all Canadians.”

What can a company do to support employees’ mental health?

Having a mental health support program in place is a logical move for employers, says Gary Shapiro, senior vice president at Program Brokerage Corporation, via the National Pest Management Association.

“A comprehensive program that addresses employee mental health issues improves productivity and reduces turnover,” he says.

Shapiro shares the following practices that employers can do to support workers’ mental health:

  1. Raise awareness about mental health and emotional well-being.
  2. Manage risks related to work, ­environment and culture.
  3. Assess employee mental health needs and measure the impact of intervention.
  4. Provide and promote access to evidence-based, high-quality care for mental health.
  5. Integrate employee mental health needs into a comprehensive strategy.
  6. Partner with local and national organizations concerned with mental health work.

Nearly a quarter of employees don't think their employers care about their wellbeing, and it's driving them to find a new job, according to a previous study.

 

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