(Pixabay)

(Pixabay)

Canadians’ mental health has deteriorated with the second wave, study finds

Increased substance use one of the ways people are coping

A national study has found that 40 per cent of Canadians have seen their mental health deteriorate since the pandemic began this spring.

The study, a partnership between the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and University of B.C. researchers, found that 42 per cent of British Columbians saw their mental health deteriorate since the spring.

That number was highest in Ontario with 44 per cent and lowest in Quebec at 32 per cent. Alberta came in at 40 per cent.

Nationwide, the most common emotional response to COVID-19 was anxiety and worry at 48 per cent overall, in B.C. and 42 per cent in Alberta.

Stress was second at 38 per cent nationwide, while sadness was third at 25 per cent. Only nine per cent of those surveyed said they felt content.

The most common fear when it came to the virus was the possibility of a second wave, which has become reality across Canada. Just over half of respondents, 58 per cent and 55 per cent, respectively, were worried about a loved one dying or contracting the virus themselves.

Researchers found that 54 per cent of people were concerned about being separated from family and friends while 51 per cent were worried about the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Finances came in at 39 per cent, with job loss at 26 per cent. About 20 per cent of people worried about having enough food for their family, while 10 per cent were concerned about domestic violence.

Worries about financial issues were more common among lower income earners; 51 per cent of households with an income below $25,000 worried about money, compared to 39 per cent overall.

How did Canadians cope?

Canadians came up with a variety of both healthy and unhealthy ways to cope with the pandemic-induced stress. One-third of people said they connected in person with people in their pandemic bubbles, while 15 per cent said they had supportive employers who helped them cope.

Across the country, 54 per cent of people were exercising more outdoors and 36 per cent connected virtually with friends.

On the flip side, 17 per cent increased substance use as a way to cope. Broken down, 20 per cent increased alcohol use, nine per cent increased cannabis use and seven per cent increased the use of prescription medication.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

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