One-in-three Canadians report struggles with mental health

VANCOUVER – Entering the third year of the pandemic, the picture of mental health in Canada is one of exhaustion and increasing trauma.

A new study from the Angus Reid Institute finds a population largely fatigued, frustrated, and anxious – and one-in-three (36%) Canadians saying they are struggling with their mental health.

This represents an increase from the one-quarter who said so in November, prior to Omicron becoming the dominant COVID-19 variant.

When asked to summarize their feelings in recent weeks, half (48%) of Canadians say they’ve been feeling “fatigued,” while two-in-five (40%) say they’ve been frustrated, and another two-in-five (37%) say they’ve been feeling anxious. One-in-ten (12%) chose happy, half the number who chose depressed (23%).

Overall, three-in-ten Canadians say they speak regularly about their mental health with friends (30%) or family (32%), but these conversations are particularly rare among men 55 and older. Just 11 per cent in that demographic group say they talk to their friends about how they’re feeling, while one-quarter (23%) talk to family. Women between the ages of 18 and 54 are much more likely to have this type of discourse, though fewer than half say this is a regular part of their life.

These conversations take on more importance when considering additional data in this study. One-in-three Canadians (35%) say that depression and anxiety are a major problem within their social circle; another half (48%) say it’s an issue they’re exposed to. Further, for those who perceive this as a challenge for their friends and loved ones, fully two-thirds (66%) say it has worsened during the pandemic. These same trends are noted for those who perceive people in their social circle dealing with addictions and alcoholism.

Seven per cent of Canadians say they are “barely getting by” when it comes to their mental health in dealing with the pandemic, more than double the number measured at any point since October 2020.

Those in Ontario (41%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (39%) are the most likely in the country to have been dealing with poor pandemic-related mental health in recent weeks, but at least three-in-ten in all regions report feeling not good or terrible.

Three-in-ten (31%) say they or someone in their household had an appointment with a therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist in the last year. Another three-in-ten (30%) say they’ve received a prescription to treat a mental health issue in the last 12 months.

Meanwhile, men and women over the age of 54 are about half as likely to say they or someone in their household has had an appointment with a mental health professional or called a mental health hotline as their younger counterparts.

Half (47%) of Canadians say alcohol abuse is a problem among their social circles while three-in-ten say the same of drug abuse.