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Canada's Mental Health Crisis is Only Getting Worse
A decade of rising depression and anxiety
I have a new article on the statistics behind Canada’s mental health crisis in The Hub.ca. The Hub is a classical liberal publication featuring news and commentary on Canadian politics, and they recently asked me to start contributing pieces on mental health. Below is an excerpt:
In September, Statistics Canada released the results of their 2022 Mental Health and Access to Care Survey, and it shows that far more Canadians are depressed and anxious today than they were a decade ago.
The survey, which is conducted every ten years, involves thousands of Canadians reporting their mental health symptoms in depth. Statistics Canada then uses those symptoms to determine whether individuals meet the diagnostic criteria for mental disorders.
Since 2012, the number of Canadians with major depressive disorder has increased by 62 percent. Today one in 13 Canadians, 7.6 percent of the population, qualify for the diagnosis. The number of Canadians with anxiety disorders has doubled, with one in 14 (7.1 percent) now suffering from social anxiety disorder. Rates of bipolar disorder rose and substance use disorder fell by 0.6 percent each, with the fall in substance abuse driven by declining alcoholism.
While mental illness is much higher among the general population today than it was a decade ago, the rates among young Canadians, particularly young women, are staggering. One in four Canadian women between the ages of 15 and 24 qualify for social anxiety disorder, and nearly one in five qualify for major depressive disorder. This is a big increase from a decade ago when those numbers were about half of what they are now.
Young Canadian men are half as likely to have a mood disorder as young women but are more likely to be addicted to alcohol, cannabis, or drugs, with one in 10 qualifying for a substance use disorder. They are also three times as likely to die by suicide though young women are far more likely to attempt.
The surge in mental health issues among Canadians in the past decade is the result of several factors. Canada’s stagnant economy and the rising cost of living play a significant role. In a recent poll from Mental Health Research Canada, 39 percent of Canadians said that economic issues were impacting their mental health with debt, inflation, rent or mortgage payments, and food costs driving up anxiety and depression. Worse still, the poll showed that 41 percent of Canadians facing financial challenges had thought about killing themselves in the past year.
Read the rest here.