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Canadians Report Depression During Pandemic, Increased Drug Use




Only about 42% of Canadians say their mental health is very good or good.

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Canadians have reported symptoms of depression at an alarming rate during the COVID-19 pandemic, a seven-fold increase from 2% before March 2020 to 14% in December 2020.

In addition, COVID-related stress has a disproportionate effect on people with a history of mental health and substance use problems. For example, almost half of people with substance use disorders in the past have reported moderate to severe depressive symptoms since March.

These are one of the findings of the Leger poll, which looked at aspects of pandemic mental health and substance use. An online poll released Wednesday, commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC) and the Canadian Substance Use Disorders Center (CCSA), found that just over 4,000 Canadians over the age of 16 had two periods (October). We interviewed for 13 days). -November February 2, 2020, November 19-December 2, 2020.


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It turns out that only about 42 percent of Canadians said their mental health was very good or excellent. According to Statistics Canada, 67% of Canadians made the same claim in 2019.

“It’s a huge gap, and it shows what’s happening there,” Ed Mantler, vice president of programs and priorities at MHCC, said on Tuesday.

“The fact that few Canadians feel that their mental health is strong or good does not necessarily mean that they are experiencing a mental illness,” he said. “They may be experiencing sadness and anxiety, which is a perfectly normal reaction to what is happening around us, but significantly more, especially those who report severe symptoms of depression. We know that it is increasing. “

Ed Mantler, Vice President of Programs and Priorities for the Mental Health Commission of Canada.  (Credit Lindsey Gibaud Photo, Mental Health Commission of Canada)
Ed Mantler, Vice President of Programs and Priorities for the Mental Health Commission of Canada. Photo by Lindsey Gibeau /Mental Health Commission of Canada

Mantler states that the escalation of those who report severe depression and increased suicidal ideation is not consistent with a similar surge in those seeking treatment.

“Less than a quarter of them have access to the service,” he said, citing the possible explanations for stigma and discrimination and the pandemic confusion of traditional treatments.

“States and territories are making online and virtual services more accessible, and Health Canada said Wellness together Portals are available, but not everyone knows about them yet. “

The report revealed that one-fifth of Canadians seeking treatment during the pandemic reported difficulty in access.

Canadians rank their finances as the largest pandemic stressor, with 14% saying it is their greatest concern, followed by social isolation (12%) and family health (11%) or themselves. (10%) followed.


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Meanwhile, about a quarter of Canadians reported moderate or severe anxiety symptoms during a pandemic. Among those who have had substance abuse or mental illness in the past, that number was almost twice as high. Almost two-thirds of Canadians say they feel they can cope with the stress associated with COVID, but that figure is either better at dealing with unexpected and difficult problems two years ago. It is considerably lower than 83% of Canadians who said. Or excellent.

Mantler also states that the data in this study support the notion that the “shadow” or “echo” pandemic of mental health and substance use issues lasts longer than the viral pandemic itself.

“Number of people reporting weak mental health, number of people reporting drinking or using cannabis, and serious symptoms of depression and suicide. Looking at the number of people, all of this is more prevalent in the problem and is likely to endure for quite some time beyond the end of the pandemic. “

Louise Bradley, MHCC’s president and chief executive officer, is in a “hidden crisis” for people with serious mental illness who are at risk of being overshadowed by “extensive malaise” that affects Canadians in general. He states that he is suffering. She is worried that the people with the greatest needs will fall between the cracks.

“Usually high tide raises all boats, but in this case there is a risk of drowning the needs of people with a history of mental health and substance use disorders,” she said in a statement. “People who plunge into a pandemic with a more serious illness need to remember that their symptoms can worsen as they wear.


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“I admire initiatives like Wellness Together Canada, but if there was a time to raise money and profit from mental health and substance use, now is the time.”

The study also showed increased drug use by Canadians, with nearly one-third of people consuming alcohol reporting increased use during a pandemic and one-fifth reporting high-risk use. doing. Similarly, two in five respondents using cannabis reported increased consumption and problematic use.

According to polls, suicidal ideation has almost doubled, rising from 3% reported by Statistics Canada in 2019 to more than 5% last fall. Thirteen percent of people previously diagnosed with mental health reported thinking of suicide during a pandemic, but nearly a quarter of people with substance use disorders had similar thoughts.

“Almost a year after the pandemic, many Canadians are nervous and some Canadians use substances in their lives to deal with stressors,” said CCSA CEO Rita Notaland. Rhea said in a statement.

“Substance use disorder is a health condition that can have devastating consequences and create significant barriers to positive health consequences. It is not a choice or a moral failure, but the harm of substance use. Many who are experiencing may not feel safe to seek the help and assistance they need because of the stigma associated with it.

“I want people to know that support is available regardless of the situation.”

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