Canadians are grappling with more mental health struggles

A survey by Delvinia and CAMH shows unemployment and isolation are having an impact during the pandemic.
mental Health

While the overwhelming majority of marketing and advertising throughout the pandemic has been geared toward an audience that is staying at home, the pandemic is having deleterious effects on Canadians’ mental health.

According a survey of 1,005 Canadians by tech and consumer data company Delvinia, conducted in partnership with the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, 25.5% of adults have experienced “moderate to severe” anxiety levels over the course of the past week.

Further, 23.2% felt lonely either “occasionally” or “most of the time” in the past week, with 20.4% feeling depressed.

Women, people with children under the age of 18 living in the home and younger adults were all more likely to feel both anxiety and depression. Moreover, the survey suggests people who have a job that exposes them to a high risk of COVID-19 were more likely to have high levels of anxiety (32.8%) compared to those with lower-risk jobs (24.4%).

Changes to Canadians’ employment status also had an effect on mental health, the survey suggests, as the unemployment rate has boomed since the beginning of the pandemic. Those who are no longer employed due to COVID-19 are more prone to have “moderate to severe anxiety levels” (33.7%) compared to other groups (21.8%), and were more likely to report feeling lonely (30.8%) compared to other groups (21.6%).

Alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic, the survey suggests – with about 23.7% of respondents reportedly engaging in “binge drinking” at least once in the past week. Those who were very worried about the impacts of the pandemic on their personal finances (27.7%) were “especially likely to engage in binge drinking.”

“These findings signal that we need to continue to provide Canadians with formal and informal supports to identify coping mechanisms,” Dr. Leslie Buckley, chief of addictions at CAMH, said in a Tuesday press release.

The negative ramifications of isolation during a pandemic were a significant part of the CAMH Foundation’s April campaign, “Apart. Not Alone.” The hospital and its foundation have said that the isolation and physical distancing measures brought on by the pandemic could trigger a “second pandemic” related to mental health – which is why the foundation wanted to highlight various tools and resources it has for those experiencing a difficult time during COVID-19. The Movember Foundation also launched a campaign encouraging men to break down barriers and reach out to each other to combat the effects of isolation.

While the outset of the pandemic saw numerous, somber ads focused on CSR efforts and supporting each other, several others – especially in recent weeks – have focused on encouraging people to “take a break” by giving them a moment of levity and emotional relief in their marketing.

Delvinia has made the findings of its research availably freely for people to use for themselves and within their organizations through its Methodify data and research platform.

“Ongoing reports will help us gauge changes in mental wellness and substance use as the pandemic progresses,” said said Adam Froman, founder and CEO of Delvinia. “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.”