A Leger poll commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction highlights the disproportionate impact of COVID-19-related stressors on people with pre-existing substance use disorders or mental illness.
The survey of more than 4,000 Canadian residents found that respondents with past and current mental health concerns indicated both increased and more problematic substance use.
- Up to one in two individuals with an existing substance use disorder reported having moderately severe to severe symptoms of depression since March 2020.
- Up to one in two respondents with current mental health symptoms who use cannabis reported increased use, compared to two in five in the general population.
- One in three who use alcohol reported increased use, while one in five reported problematic (high risk) use.
- Moderate and severe anxiety symptoms were highest among respondents with lifetime substance use disorder and lifetime mental health diagnoses.
- Respondents’ top stressors were their financial situation (14%), social isolation (12%), and the health of family members (11%).
A report from the series of Leger polls commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction highlights the different impact of COVID-19-related stressors by gender and household size, and provides an update on impacts for people with pre-existing substance use disorders or mental illness.
The survey of more than 7,000 Canadian residents found that female respondents in households with children under 13 reported higher rates of anxiety and increased substance use.
- More females report moderate-to-severe anxiety symptoms than males (29% vs 20%), with even higher rates for females and males in households with kids under 13 (37% vs 24%)
- Females in households with kids under 13 report higher rates of increased substance use than males (37% vs 26% for alcohol, 48% vs 37% for cannabis).
- More males report excellent or very good mental health than females (48% vs 35%), but more males report problematic alcohol use (28% vs 16%) and problematic cannabis use (43% vs 32%).
- People living alone are more likely to report moderate-to-severe depression symptoms (20% vs 15%), thoughts of suicide (9% vs 6%), and problematic alcohol use (31% vs 22%) compared to the rest of the population.
- Infographic: Mental Health and Substance Use During COVID-19: Spotlight on Canadian Households with Young Children
A report from the series of Leger polls undertaken by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction shows the disproportionate negative impact COVID-19 is having on people who live with low incomes or who are unemployed or recently lost their jobs.
The survey of more than 8,500 people in Canada also provides insights into the pandemic’s impact on those who have pre-existing substance use disorders or mental illness.
- People with low income or who are unemployed/laid-off report increased substance use and higher rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.
- One in four people with low income or who were unemployed/laid-off said finances were a top pandemic stressor (compared to one in seven in the general population).
- People with low income or who were unemployed/laid-off have faced more barriers in accessing mental health and substance use treatment services.
- The most common barriers to services included financial constraints, not having readily available help, not knowing how and where to get help, and long wait-lists.
A report from the series of Leger polls commissioned by the Mental Health Commission of Canada and the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction highlights the disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic among youth, the resilience of older adults, and the ongoing prevalence of stigma toward depression and alcohol use disorders. The survey of more than 10,000 people across Canada also highlights COVID-19’s impact on people with pre-existing substance use disorders or mental illness.
- The level of mental health and substance use concerns across Canada remains high, particularly for people with past and current substance use concerns.
- Among youth (16-24), 45 per cent report moderate to severe anxiety symptoms, and about 40 per cent of those who use alcohol and/or cannabis report increased use in the past month and a reduced ability to handle pandemic stress.
- By comparison, older adults (65+) show signs of better mental health and less problematic substance use as well as stronger coping skills.
- Perceived stigma toward depression is still common and even more prevalent for alcohol use disorders.
- Continued investments in youth mental health and substance use supports, resilience among older adults, and (further) stigma reduction efforts are needed.