Mental Health of Canadians Has Deteriorated During The Pandemic, According To Environics Institute Report

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A recently released report from the Environics Institute found that, between April 2019 and December 2020, Canadians’ perceptions of their physical health – and, especially, their mental health – deteriorated.

Between April 2019 and December 2020, the proportion of Canadians rating their mental health as excellent or very good fell by 15 points

The report, Mind and Body: Impact of the Pandemic on Physical and Mental Health, discusses the results of a recent survey conducted by the Environics Institute, in partnership with Future Skills Centre, and the Diversity Institute at Ryerson University. The study findings reveal that the decline in perceptions of one’s own mental health was especially dramatic among women age 65 and older. In April 2019, 73 percent of women age 65 and older said their mental health was excellent or good; but by December 2020, the proportion had fallen to 40 percent.

The overall findings also suggest that Canadians are not all equally well-positioned to bounce back once the pandemic has passed. Preparations for an economic recovery should entail intentionally addressing the poorer health of those whom the pandemic has impacted the most. It falls to governments and employers to put in place policies that can ensure that post-pandemic economic recovery does not leave behind those Canadians facing health challenges.

Other key study findings included:

  • Between April 2019 and December 2020, the proportion of Canadians rating their mental health as excellent or very good fell by 15 points, from 53 percent to 38 percent. The proportion saying their mental health is fair or poor increased 10 points over the same period, from 21 to 31 percent.
  • There has been no change in perceptions of mental health in the case of younger Canadians (age 18 to 29); a significant change for those between the ages of 30 and 64; and a dramatic drop among those age 65 and older (especially among women in this age group).
  • There has been a decline since April 2019 in perceptions of mental health among all major racial identity groups and those identifying as Indigenous. However, this decline is somewhat larger among those identifying as Chinese.
  • While the decline in perceptions of mental health over the past year and a half has been greater among seniors than among younger adults, it remains the case that younger Canadians continue to rate their mental health more poorly than others. The situation of younger women is most concerning. Among those between the ages of 18 and 29, one in two (51%) women, compared to 27 percent of men, say their mental health is fair or poor; among students, the proportions are 52 percent and 32 percent for women and men, respectively.

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