December 15, 2020 (Toronto) — The last of six planned 2020 surveys by CAMH and research technology and consumer data collection company Delvinia conducted since mid May 2020 reveals a pattern that anxiety levels fluctuated during the course of the pandemic, highest in the spring and late fall, and lowest over the summer months, whereas symptoms of depression and loneliness remained relatively stable.
“These changes in anxiety amongst Canadians correspond to how the pandemic evolved since we started collecting these data, with fewer COVID-19 cases and looser public health restrictions over the summer, but increasing cases and more restrictions in the fall,” said Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Independent Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy research at CAMH. “We will now take the opportunity to delve deeper into the data gleaned from these surveys to better understand the nuances of how the pandemic has affected Canadians’ mental health.”
Another theme that emerged is that the mental health of women, parents and younger adults appear to be particularly affected during the pandemic. For example, the survey of 1,003 adults, conducted between November 27 and December 1, 2020—as we entered into the holiday season—found that nearly a quarter of women (24.3 per cent) reported feeling depressed occasionally or most of the time in the past week, which is significantly higher than among men (18.9 per cent). As in previous surveys, those aged 60+ were less likely to indicate moderate to severe anxiety (11.8 per cent), whereas those aged 18-39 were more likely to indicate moderate to severe anxiety (33.2 per cent).
Other Key Survey Findings:
- 24.3 per cent of survey respondents had moderate to severe anxiety levels. Over all six surveys, respondents with children under 18 in the household reported higher levels of anxiety as compared to those without children in this age group.
- 23.3 per cent of respondents reported that they felt lonely occasionally or most of the time in the past week. Over all six surveys, women reported higher levels of loneliness as compared to men.
- 21.7 per cent of participants reported feeling depressed occasionally or most of the time in the past week.
- The top activities engaged in by participants to help cope with the pandemic included connecting socially with friends or family online or over the phone (92.3 per cent), making time to relax (91.2 per cent), and following a routine (91.9 per cent).
- 19.4 per cent of participants reported seeking help for mental health concerns from a counsellor or health care provider (online or in person) at least once during the past week.
More than a quarter (25.7 per cent) of participants reported binge drinking in the previous week. “That number is too high—and did not significantly change over recent months, despite the ups and downs of the pandemic,” said CAMH Psychiatrist Dr. David Gratzer. “High levels of drinking are less than ideal and could haunt people. After all, alcohol is addictive. The longer people engage in this unfortunate coping strategy, the harder it will be to change, I suspect.”
“The sixth survey we ran in collaboration with CAMH continues to highlight the struggles Canadians are having with their mental health during the pandemic, said Adam Froman, Founder and CEO of Delvinia. “It is critical that we continue to shine a spotlight on these issues and provide data like this to the general public via platforms like Methodify. It is only with understanding the problems that we can begin to properly address them.”
Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Heath Policy Research at CAMH, added: “The long-term mental health effects of the pandemic are as yet unknown. While this is our final planned 2020 survey, CAMH researchers are considering subsequent research to better understand and respond to the mental health fallout of the pandemic and monitor its after-affects. “What we do know for certain is that there has long been an under-investment in mental health. We need adequate funding to make sure we have research and health supports for Canadians’ mental wellness, including a focus on mental health promotion, prevention and treatment.”
The series is made possible by a collaboration with Methodify by Delvinia, an automated research platform that connects organizations to real people to gain actionable data and insights. Results are based on responses from 1,003 English-speaking Canadians ages 18 and older via an online survey of the Asking Canadians web panel, reflecting a distribution of age, gender, and region. The survey was in market between November 27 and December 1, 2020.
An interactive dashboard highlighting findings from each of the six surveys can be viewed on CAMH’s website at camh.ca/covid19dashboard. Visit camh.ca/covid19 for a variety of other resources, including tips, coping strategies and resources regarding mental health and substance use during the pandemic.
About The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
CAMH is Canada's largest mental health and addiction teaching hospital and a world leading research centre in this field. CAMH combines clinical care, research, education, policy development and health promotion to help transform the lives of people affected by mental illness and addiction. CAMH is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto, and is a Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization Collaborating Centre. For more information, please follow @CAMHnews on Twitter.
Delvinia is a research technology and consumer data collection company that is transforming how data is collected and used to underpin business decision-making at every level. The company has spawned a successful portfolio of products and services, including the research automation platform Methodify.it, the online consumer panels AskingCanadians and AskingAmericans, and CRIS, which automates qualitative research. For more information, please visit delvinia.com or follow @delvinia on Twitter.
Methodify by Delvinia is an automated research platform that connects organizations to real people to gain actionable data and insights. With a full range of industry-proven research methods, Methodify enables decision makers and researchers to automate their research process and gain insights and data within hours. For more, visit methodify.it.
CAMH Media Relations