Ontarians expect mental health crisis from COVID-19
May 13, 2020
TORONTO – Seven out of 10 Ontarians (69 per cent) believe the province is headed for a “serious mental health crisis” as it emerges from this pandemic, and nearly eight out of 10 (77 per cent) say more mental health supports will be necessary to help society.
This data comes from the first of three polls Pollara Strategic Insights is conducting on behalf of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.
CMHA Ontario is evaluating how Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health are changing as they come out from underneath the pandemic. Two more surveys will follow in the coming months as restrictions loosen around COVID-19 and the economy continues to re-open.
According to Pollara’s research, 79 per cent of Ontarians worry about what the future will look like after the outbreak is over; 87 per cent worry about the impact on the older generation, and 71 per cent worry about the younger generation.
Nearly everyone (90 per cent) is concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the economy and 69 per cent of Ontarians are concerned about the impact the outbreak has on their personal finances.
One finding of note is that while 67 per cent of Ontarians worry about the mental health impact on family and friends, fewer Ontarians – 53 per cent – are concerned about their own mental health.
“Stigma is likely playing a role in this self-reporting in that it’s much easier for Ontarians to admit concern for their physical health or for others than for their own mental health,” said Camille Quenneville (pictured), CEO of CMHA Ontario.
“This may explain why, in spite of prevalent negative feelings, more people in Ontario express concern with their physical health [39 per cent] than with their mental health [23 per cent],” she said.
“We look forward to the next phases of this research to gain a broader understanding of how the pandemic has affected our province and how we can best move forward to support Ontarians as they address mental health and addictions issues,” Quenneville said.
Pollara’s online research of 1,001 Ontario residents over 18 was conducted from April 16-23. It carries a margin of error of ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
Additional findings include:
- One in four (23 per cent) Ontarians are consuming more substances such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. Among those who are consuming these substances, 29 per cent have changed the time of day when they consume them.
- The things we recommend to stay mentally healthy are taking a hit. For example, 36 per cent of Ontarians say their diet has gotten worse, while 48 per cent say exercise habits have worsened.
- Despite trying to make a daily routine, 59 per cent are finding it hard to be productive while in self-isolation. This is true of those who are currently employed and those not working.
- 69 per cent of Ontarians are concerned about catching the virus, while 70 per cent are concerned about losing family or friends to COVID-19.
About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario
Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health.