High levels of depression more than double in pandemic: survey

Fewer people with mood disorders accessing mental health supports

High levels of depression more than double in pandemic: survey
Higher anxiety is most prevalent among 18- to 34-year olds, found a survey.

Amidst the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, many Canadians are experiencing increased levels of mental health issues, according to a survey.

Before the coronavirus hit, seven per cent were reporting high levels of depression – now, that number is 16 per cent.

And 22 per cent are predicting they will have high levels of depression if social isolation continues for two more months, found the survey of 1,800 Canadians conducted between April 22 and April 28, 2020 by Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC).

Also of concern: Among those diagnosed with a mood disorder, 42 per cent are accessing mental health supports today -- down from 52 per cent before the pandemic.

The most negative impacts on mental health are concerns over a family member becoming infected, job loss and economic anxiety. The most positive impacts are pets, communicating with those outside their household, and reading.

“The pandemic is creating a great deal of mental distress, as well as a wide range of innovative and creative responses. We need to be aware of what is happening to Canadians and to be guided by this experience when we decide on action that will support good mental health,” says John Trainor, chair of MHRC’s board of directors and adjunct professor of the department of psychiatry at University of Toronto.

Higher anxiety is most prevalent among 18- to 34-year-olds (43 per cent) compared to those 55 and older (27 per cent), women (40 per cent) and people with children in the household (41 per cent). More than two in five (43 per cent) health-care workers are feeling a high level of anxiety since COVID-19 started, up from 14 per cent before the pandemic hit.

The report comes after the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) announced it has developed free crisis response training programs designed to help front-line workers deal with the stress of COVID-19.

Canadians’ mental stress change score increased considerably in March, according to a separate Morneau Shepell survey.

Almost half (48 per cent) of employers are providing unique mental health supports amid the COVID-19 crisis, according to a survey by the Human Resources Professionals Association (HRPA) in Ontario.

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