(Newmarket, Feb. 7, 2022) – New polling data released today indicates that more Ontarians are accessing mental health supports than at any other time during the pandemic.
The survey by Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario indicates that one in four people (24 per cent) have sought help for their mental health challenges, a significant uptick from 17 per cent last winter and nine per cent almost two years ago.
The data also shows that while people have had their ups and downs, their levels of mental health distress are similar to the start of the pandemic. This is particularly true with rates of stress, anxiety and depression.
Substance use is also roughly the same as the start of the pandemic, where one in four Ontarians are still consuming more alcohol, cannabis or tobacco.
Respondents’ outlook about the future of mental health is grim: 77 per cent, up from 69 per cent when the pandemic began, feel that Ontario is on track for a “serious mental health crisis when this is over.”
“We’ve conducted four polls during this pandemic because we wanted to get a sense of how people are doing nearly two years in,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO, CMHA Ontario. “Needless to say we’re very concerned that the numbers are going in the wrong direction and people are not improving.”
While it is a positive sign that one in four people are seeking help, the survey indicates that Ontarians are not finding the supports as effective as at the start of the pandemic.
About 65 per cent are now reporting that mental health supports are helpful, down from 77 per cent near the beginning of COVID-19.
“This is troubling as it may be an indicator that people’s mental health challenges are more complex than they might’ve thought,” said Quenneville. “Many people might be saying they’re fine but that’s not what we’re seeing in the data.”
“We will continue to monitor these trends because, as we know, mental health is a continuum and people’s moods and feelings can change with a return to normalcy,” she said.
CMHA Ontario’s fourth survey was conducted by Pollara and questioned 1,001 Ontario adults from Jan. 10-17. It carries a margin of error of ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.
CMHA Ontario’s first poll was conducted in April 2020, the second poll in July 2020 and the third in February 2021.
CMHA York Region and South Simcoe has continued offering mental health support throughout the pandemic. You can learn more about their 30+ programs and services, as well as how you can get help at www.cmha-yr.on.ca.
Access and effectiveness of mental health supports
- 24 per cent of Ontarians have now sought mental health supports, up from 17 per cent last winter, 14 per cent in summer 2020, and nine per cent from spring 2020
- 43 per cent of people are finding it difficult to access mental health supports, up from 37 per cent at the start of the pandemic
- A third (29 per cent) of Ontarians who’ve accessed mental health supports say they were “not helpful,” compared to 19 per cent at the start of the pandemic
- At the start of the pandemic, 83 per cent of Ontarians reported that no one in their household tried to access support. It’s now 69 per cent
Rates of mental health issues
- Nearly half (48 per cent) of Ontarians say their mental health has worsened since the outbreak began, up from 36 per cent at the start of the pandemic
- 43 per cent of people feel their mental health is “excellent” or “very good” compared to 35 per cent last winter, 48 per cent in summer 2020 and 52 per cent from spring 2020
- Worry among the overall population about the pandemic’s impact has declined to 71 per cent from 79 per cent at the start of COVID-19
- 32 per cent of Ontarians are reporting high levels of stress and 31 per cent high levels of anxiety, the same as the start of the pandemic
- 15 per cent say they are “almost always” or “very often” depressed, up slightly from 13 per cent at the start of the COVID-19
Parents and children
- More than 60 per cent of parents say dealing with the pandemic has been difficult for their children
- 65 per cent of parents say their children have difficulty dealing with an uncertain future, up from 57 per cent a year ago
- 67 per cent of parents believe not going to school has been difficult, up from 60 per cent last year
- Nearly 80 per cent of parents believe not being able to do regular activities outside of home and not seeing friends has been difficult for children
Alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, gambling
- A quarter of Ontarians report that they are consuming more substances, roughly the same as last year
- 14 per cent of people are consuming less than before the outbreak
- Among those who are consuming more, 77 per cent are choosing alcohol; 38 per cent are using more cannabis; and 27 per cent more tobacco
- Of the quarter of Ontarians who gamble, 35 per cent are gambling more than before the pandemic and 33 per cent are gambling less
About Canadian Mental Health Association, York Region and South Simcoe
Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. As the nationwide leader and champion for mental health with 75 branches across the country, CMHA facilitates access to the resources people require to maintain and improve mental health and community integration, build resilience, and support recovery from mental illness and addiction.
CMHA York Region and South Simcoe (CMHA-YRSS) is one of the fastest growing branches of CMHA, last year serving more than 42,000 clients. With a vision of providing Mental Health to All, CMHA-YRSS offers more than 30 mental health and addictions programs for youth, adults, family caregivers, local businesses and community organizations. To find out more about the work of the Canadian Mental Health Association York Region and South Simcoe, go to www.cmha-yr.on.ca.