OHRC report strongly links mental illness to poverty, unemployment
Those who suffer from mental illness or addiction are much more likely to be poor, unemployed and living in inadequate housing, especially when they also suffer from other forms of disability, a new report finds.
Compiled using federal data and published by the Ontario Human Rights Commission, data from the report suggests that regarding several factors — housing, income, employment, and attainment of education — those who suffer from mental illness or addiction don’t just face worse outcomes when compared to the general population, they also fare worse than those who report other forms of disability.
“When controlling by disability type, the results show that people with mental health and addiction disabilities fare worse on most indicators than people with other types of disabilities,” the report’s authors state.
But the report states as many as 90 per cent of those who suffer from mental health or addiction issues also report other forms of disability.
“Having a chronic physical condition can be a risk factor for developing a mental health disability and vice versa,” the report’s authors write.
When it comes to shelter, the Commission says that 29 per cent of Ontario residents who report mental health illness live in housing that they struggle to afford, is in poor condition, or is too small for the size of their household.
Only 14 per cent of Ontarians who do not report a physical or mental disability experience the same housing constraints. Sixteen per cent of Ontarians who report another type of disability experience similar housing difficulties.
When it comes to income, 20 per cent of Ontarians who report a mental disability fell below the low income after tax status in 2010, compared to eight per cent of those with physical disabilities and 10 per cent who report no disability.
“When controlling for disability type, mental health and addiction disabilities appear to be highly correlated with being in low income and other disabilities less so,” the report’s authors state, adding that they believe that trend needs to be researched further.
While only 7.7 per cent of Ontario workers were unemployed in 2011, including nine per cent of those with a physical disability, 20 per cent of Ontario workers who reported mental illness or addiction were unemployed.
And while nearly one quarter of all Ontarian adults have a university degree, only 11 per cent of those who live with a physical disability have the same, and only nine per cent of those reporting a mental disability or addition issue have attained the same level of education.
The report also found indigenous Ontarians living off reserve are close to three times more likely to report a mental health disability or addiction than non-indigenous Ontarians, the report states.
In all, more than 376,000 Ontarians reported suffering from a “severe” or “very severe” mental or psychological disability in 2012.
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