July 28, 2021 (Toronto) — Nearly 30 per cent of Canadians (28.8 per cent) are reporting moderate to severe anxiety about returning to pre-pandemic routines, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s (CAMH) ongoing survey of Canadians’ pandemic health and substance use in collaboration with research technology and consumer data collection company Delvinia. Anxiety about returning to pre-pandemic routines was highest among people aged 18 to 39 (38.4 per cent) and those with children under 18 living at home (35.7 per cent). The survey also found that overall self-reports of anxiety, feeling depressed, and binge-drinking remain as high as they were last summer before any COVID-19 vaccines had been approved or rolled out. This survey, the eighth in a series which began in May 2020, was conducted with 1,001 Canadians between July 9 and 13, 2021.
“For the last 16 months, Canadians have been feeling fearful about the present and uncertain about the future,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH and survey co-lead. “People have become used to feeling on guard and not having as much control over how they live their daily lives, so it is natural that so many Canadians are feeling anxious about each new phase of the pandemic and hesitant about going back to their pre-pandemic routines.”
Other Key Survey Findings
- Overall, 19 per cent of participants in the survey reported moderate to severe anxiety, virtually the same number as last summer (19.2 per cent). As in previous surveys, people over age 60 reported the lowest levels of anxiety (8.5 per cent) and people aged 18 to 39 reported the highest (25.2 per cent).
- 18.6 per cent of respondents reported feeling depressed occasionally or most of the time in the 7 days before the survey was conducted, also virtually unchanged from last summer (18.7 per cent).
- 26.5 per cent of respondents reported heavy episodic drinking in the previous week, which has been fairly consistent since last summer.
- The one area where there was a statistically significant change was in reports of loneliness, which went down from 23 per cent in summer 2020 to 18.8 per cent in summer 2021. People over 60 were the least likely to report feeling lonely. People with children under 18 in the household were more likely to report feeling lonely in the previous week (23.8 per cent) as compared to those without children (17.2 per cent).
“These data indicate that even though the risk of contracting COVID-19 is reducing as more Canadians become vaccinated, the number of people experiencing adverse mental health effects continues to be a concern,” said survey co-lead Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Independent Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. “It may be that for many people, the feeling of ease or relief of a so-called ‘return to normal’ may come gradually in the months after restrictions are lifted rather than right away. Parents of school-aged children in particular have had to deal with constant uncertainty over schools, and both mental and physical health concerns for their kids. For them, the current status of the pandemic may feel like a slow exhale rather than a celebration.”
“Constant change and disruption to people’s personal and professional lives will always be associated with a certain degree of worry and trepidation and everyone’s experience of that will be unique,” said CAMH Psychiatrist and VP Education Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam. “Where it becomes a concern and may require clinical supports is when it begins to negatively impact their behaviours in terms of avoidance, and non-stop worrying, or when it starts to manifest itself in physical changes like difficulty concentrating and disrupted sleep patterns. My advice is that people focus on what they can control, take a gradual approach to return to normal routines, and reach out for clinical help or other supports if feelings of elevated anxiety persist.”
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 1,001 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 July 9 and 13, 2021.
An interactive dashboard highlighting key survey findings will be updated after each subsequent survey, and 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 visit camh.ca or 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