Jan 25, 2022

By Jane Brown

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We Canadians are having a tough time of it, as a new survey reveals anxiety, feelings of depression and loneliness among Canadians has spiked to the highest levels since Spring of 2020.

The research was conducted by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

Overall, a quarter (25.1 per cent) of survey participants reported feeling moderate to severe anxiety, significantly higher than the 19.0 per cent reported in the last survey completed in July 2021. Similar spikes were found in reports of loneliness (24.1 percent now compared to 18.8 per cent last summer) and feelings of depression (22.3 percent now compared to 18.6 per cent last summer).

The survey also found a significant gender gap in the results. Reports of moderate to severe anxiety, loneliness and feelings of depression increased significantly among women, but only slightly for men.

“These larger increases among women may reflect that they are often carrying a disproportionate burden, including imbalances in caregiving responsibilities and frontline work,” said Dr. Samantha Wells, survey co-lead and Senior Director at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH.

Also of concern was a significant increase in reports of unmet mental health needs, with 24.0 per cent of Canadians disclosing they needed mental health services to cope with the pandemic in the past 12 months but were unable to receive them, as compared to 19.5 per cent last summer. Again, this increase was especially evident among women (increase from 21.7 to 27.2 per cent).

“After all of the ups and downs of the pandemic, in terms of the overall mental health of Canadians, in many ways we are right back to where we were two years ago,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, survey co-lead and Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research. “With Omicron in full force during this survey period, the relatively lower levels of mental distress reported last summer when the vaccine rollout was in full swing are now a distant memory for a lot of people. It has never been more important to invest in mental health to prepare our healthcare system for the fall-out from this pandemic.”

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