New data says fewer Ontarians are seeking mental health

Services are helping those who use them

As more details emerge about the psychological impact of COVID- 19, CMHA Lambton Kent is encouraging anyone who is struggling with mental health and addiction issues at this time to reach out and seek help.

The call comes as new provincial data this week showed that far fewer people with a mental health condition have been seeking formal supports since the crisis began.

In the first of three polls by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division, only 13% of Ontarians who identified as having a mental health condition said they’ve accessed mental health supports since the outbreak, compared to 39% before the pandemic.

Further, nearly one-third (31%) of those diagnosed with a mental health condition feel they do not have all the supports they need.

On the flip side, 77% of those who have accessed mental health supports during the outbreak has found these supports to be helpful.

%Also of interest is that 41% of the general population in Ontario wish they had someone to talk to about the things that are worrying them now, and 43% do not feel confident in their ability to find mental health supports.

“Our polling data suggests people don’t know where to find mental health and addictions resources or are just hesitant to reach out, but those who are reaching out and getting the help they need are being effectively supported,” said CMHA Lambton Kent CEO Alan Stevenson.
“Despite the limitations that come with physical distancing and isolation, the CMHA has found ways to continue providing support to our clients. This may be in person with the appropriate safety precautions, by phone, videoconferencing or other means,” Stevenson said. “Help is still available and CMHA is here with our programs and services.

”Looking ahead, the Pollara research shows that seven out of 10 Ontarians (69%) believe the province is headed for a “serious mental health crisis” as it emerges from this pandemic and nearly eight of out 10 (77%) say more mental health supports will be necessary to help society.

“In order to meet an upcoming mental health crisis coming out of COVID-19, community mental health agencies need increased investment from government,” Stevenson said. “The province has promised $3.8 billion over 10 years for mental health and addictions service but the investment has been slow to materialize.”

Additional findings from the Pollara research about mental health and addictions:

  • While 43% of Ontarians do not feel confident in their ability to find supports if they were needed, 44% do.
  • The things we recommend to stay mentally healthy are taking a hit. For example, 36% of Ontarians say their diet has gotten worse, while 48%say exercise habits have worsened.
  • A quarter (23%) of Ontarians are consuming more substances such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. Among those who are consuming these substances, 29% have changed the time of day when they consume.
  • Despite trying to make a daily routine, 59% are finding it hard to be productive while in self-isolation. This is true of those who are currently employed and those not working.
  • 29% of those who have been diagnosed with a mental health condition say they’ve had issues accessing the supports they need during this time.

Pollara’s online research of 1,001 Ontario residents over 18 was conducted from April 16-23. It carries a margin of error of ± 3.1% 19 times out of 20.

Two more surveys will follow in the coming months as restrictions loosen around COVID-19 and the economy continues to re-open during this unprecedented time. CMHA Ontario is looking to evaluate how Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health are changing as they come out from the pandemic.

Read CMHA Ontario’s news release: New data shows a majority of Ontarians believe mental health crisis will follow COVID-19 impact

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