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COVID-19 and mental health. Pandemic particularly hard on women, parents and younger adults

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The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH), Canada’s largest mental health teaching hospital, in collaboration with Delvinia, a leading global research technology company, released the inaugural results of a new national survey series focused on better understanding Canadians’ mental health and substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic. Data collected by Delvinia between May 8 – 12, 2020 show that women, younger adults and people with children in the home are more likely to experience anxiety and depressive symptoms.

“CAMH regularly deploys surveys to understand the changing mental health needs of the people we serve, and it is particularly important for us to understand the impacts of COVID-19 on Canadians’ mental health and substance use patterns during this period,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, a Senior Scientist in the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH, in a release. “Data gathered to date shows that certain groups—including those that have so far borne social and economic burdens of this pandemic—are faring worse than others.”

Key Survey Findings

  • One quarter (25.5 per cent) of respondents indicated moderate to severe anxiety levels, 23.2 per cent felt lonely occasionally or most of the time in the past week and one fifth (20.4 per cent) reported feeling depressed occasionally or most of the time in the past week.
  • Women, those with children under the age of 18 living in the home and younger adults (aged 18-39) were all more likely to feel both depression and anxiety.
  • People who have a job that exposes them to a high risk of COVID-19 were more likely to have high levels of anxiety compared to those with lower risk jobs (32.8 per cent vs. 24.4 per cent respectively).
  • Changes to employment status also affected mental health. Those who have lost their job or are no longer working because of COVID-19 are more likely to have moderate to severe anxiety levels (33.7 per cent) compared to other groups (21.8 per cent), and were more likely to report feeling lonely (30.8 per cent) compared to other groups (21.6 per cent).

The survey also asked respondents about their alcohol consumption patterns. Nearly one quarter (23.7 per cent) of respondents reported engaging in binge drinking at least once in the past week, while those who are very worried about the impact of COVID-19 on their personal finances (27.7 per cent) were especially likely to engage in binge drinking.

“It’s important for Canadians to monitor their alcohol consumption at this time of increased stress and anxiety,” said Dr. Leslie Buckley, Chief of Addictions at CAMH. “These findings signal that we need to continue to provide Canadians with formal and informal supports to identify coping mechanisms.”

In support of the response to COVID-19, Delvinia is providing free access to all survey data via its Methodify platform for the public to explore, download and use within their organizations. This can be accessed at http://www.delvinia.com/camh-coronavirus-mental-health/.

“The survey underscores the ongoing mental health challenges Canadians are facing as a result of the pandemic” said Adam Froman, Founder and CEO of Delvinia. “Ongoing reports will help us gauge changes in mental wellness and substance use as the pandemic progresses. What’s more, ensuring the data is free and accessible to all will help equip people, businesses, government bodies and healthcare institutions with the insights needed to implement tools and frameworks that will support mental wellness over the short- and long-term.”

Survey Methodology

Results are based on responses from 1,005 English-speaking Canadians ages 18 and older via an online survey of the Asking Canadians web panel, reflecting a distribution of age, gender, and region. The survey was in market between May 8 and 12, 2020. It will be redeployed in the coming weeks as the pandemic continues.

An interactive dashboard highlighting key survey findings will be updated after each subsequent survey, and can be viewed on CAMH’s website at camh.ca/covid19dashboard. Visit camh.ca/covid19 for a variety of other resources, including tips, coping strategies and resources regarding mental health and substance use during the pandemic. We are apart. Not alone.