Who has time for mental health?

Many Canadians not taking care of themselves amid pandemic: Survey

Who has time for mental health?
Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians say the pandemic continues to negatively impact their mental health, finds a survey.

Nearly 60 per cent of Canadians say the pandemic continues to negatively impact their mental health. Yet, 40 per cent report they do not spend any time on their mental health each week, according to a report from Sun Life.

More men (46 per cent) than women (34 per cent) report spending no time on their mental health, and across generations. 

And those who do take time for their mental health are spending only a few hours on it, according to Sun Life’s survey of 1,000 Canadians conducted Nov. 12–15, 2020.

Among them, 22 per cent report spending under one hour a week, 21 per cent say they spend one to three hours, and only nine per cent say they spend three to five hours.  

"Many people think focusing on their mental health means therapy – but that's only one tool available. There are various actions you can take to help improve your mental health. Whether you're getting some fresh air or doing a free online mindfulness program, it's the small steps that add up," says Sam Mikail, director of mental health solutions at Sun Life. "Managing your mental health is a process that we all must make time for. Investing now can help reduce potential issues down the road."

After months of stress and uncertainty, the pandemic is having an impact on the motivation of many Canadian workers.

Caregiver stress

One group that’s feeling a lot of stress is caregivers — family members, friends and neighbours who support someone with an illness, chronic disease or acute health care situation.

Nearly half (47 per cent) of caregivers are dealing with the care recipient's anxiety and stress over COVID-19 and its restrictions, and are unable to take the breaks or access the social interaction they need, according to a report from the Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO).

As a result, 52 per cent find it stressful to manage their own emotions, finds the survey of 825 caregivers across Ontario, in late September.

And 77 per cent of those supporting someone with a mental health issue or addiction find it difficult to access mental health support for them.

"While we can't predict how long this pandemic will last, we do know that there is a growing number of new caregivers and many of those that were caregivers before the pandemic who need extra support," says Amy Coupal, CEO of OCO. "The impact of COVID-19 on caregivers is likely to last for years to come."

The report also finds more hours are being spent on caregiving responsibilities, with 31 percent of caregivers providing more than 10 hours of care per week — compared to 26 per cent before the pandemic.

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