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Mental health impact of COVID-19 at all-time high: poll

Almost 80% of Ontarians now believe we'll be in a serious mental health crisis post-pandemic

March 15, 2021  by CM Staff

PHOTO: Adobe Stock

TORONTO — A new survey is highlighting alarming trends that indicate the pandemic’s strain on the mental health of Ontarians has reached all-time highs.

The latest polling data commissioned by Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division shows that only a third of Ontarians (35%) consider their current state of mental health as ‘very good’ or ‘excellent,’ a significant decrease from 52% as recorded in its first poll last May.

Additionally, almost 80% of Ontarians now believe we’ll be in a serious mental health crisis post-pandemic — up from 66% in CMHA Ontario’s second poll in August.

The latest poll also showed a troubling pattern of loneliness: more than half Ontarians (57%) are lonelier since the start of the pandemic, almost half (47%) wish they had someone to talk to, and more than a third (36%) say they are often, very often or almost always lonely.

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Perhaps not surprisingly, rates of stress, anxiety and depression during the pandemic are also worse than ever.

This data comes from the third poll in a series Pollara Strategic Insights is conducting on behalf of CMHA Ontario to evaluate how Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health are changing during the pandemic.

“When we decided to start surveying Ontarians a year ago, we were worried about the mental health fallout of the pandemic,” said CMHA Ontario CEO Camille Quenneville, in a prepared statement. “While we were concerned after our first round of results last spring, the second round in the summer provided some hopeful results. Now, the results of this latest poll show that people are having more trouble coping with the effects of the pandemic. The need for more supports has never been more clear.”

Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health have worsened dramatically since the previous polls.

  • 36% of Ontarians say they’re experiencing very high or high stress (up from 30% in the summer)
  • 35% are feeling very high or high anxiety (up from 30% in the summer)
  • 17% say they’re always or very often depressed (up from 13% in May)
  • More than one quarter of Ontarians (27% are using more substances to cope (up from 21% in the summer)
  • Nearly eight in 10 Ontarians (79%) can see how COVID-19 is negatively impacting the mental health of others
  • In spite of the negative statistics, more than three-quarters (77%) of Ontarians feel they’re handling public health restrictions well


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