October 14, 2020 (Toronto) — A mental health gender gap that was forged early in the COVID-19 pandemic has been reinforced, according to the latest survey by The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in collaboration the global research technology company Delvinia.
The survey of 1,003 adults, conducted between September 18 and 22 as elementary and high schools were reopening, reveals that women had higher levels of anxiety and loneliness than men, and parents of children under 18 had higher levels of depression compared to adults without children in this age group.
“There is concern that added stressors related to children returning to school may be reflected in the finding,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. “More research is needed and more supports are required for these populations.”
Key Survey Findings:
- Nearly one quarter of women (24.3 per cent) indicated experiencing moderate to severe anxiety, significantly higher than the 17.9 per cent found among men. The same gender gap was evident in reports of loneliness (23.3 per cent for women and 17.3 per cent for men).
- Overall, parents with children under 18 living in the home were more likely to report feeling depressed (29.1 per cent) than adults without children (18.9 per cent).
- There was a significant increase among both men and women reporting fear about getting COVID-19, with one quarter (25.8 per cent) saying they were worried compared to 20.3 per cent in the last survey conducted in the summer.
- Heavy episodic drinking remained a concern, with 28.5 per cent of men and 22.6 per cent of women reporting binge drinking.
- One in five adult Canadians (20.3 per cent) reported seeking professional help for mental health concerns as a way of coping with the pandemic at least once during the week preceding the survey.
“Many Canadians are actively seeking mental health supports,” said CAMH psychiatrist Dr. David Gratzer. “While it is encouraging that so many struggling with their mental health are seeking help, it is also a reminder of the need to further support and expand care – particularly virtual care – to meet the increasing demand.”
CAMH has implemented an ambitious set of policy and procedure changes to increase access to virtual care to treat patients wherever they are during COVID-19. In February, the last full month before the pandemic was declared, fewer than 400 patient sessions were conducted online. By the end of May, that number had exceeded 5,000.
For the first time since the national surveys began in May, participants were also asked what kind of activities they were doing to help them cope with the pandemic. The top three were spending time outdoors (93.5 per cent), connecting socially with friends or family online or on the phone (92 per cent) and carving out time to relax (93.1 per cent).
More than four in five Canadians (82.1 per cent) indicated connecting socially with friends or family in person was a key coping strategy. “This is not surprising given the benefits of social support, but is of concern as case counts across the country rise,” added Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Independent Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. “Canadians need to continue to find alternate coping strategies and other ways to engage with friends and families remotely to avoid potentially spreading the virus.”
“We recognize that the analysis of the data by CAMH researchers continues to find that women and those with children are most affected by mental health issues as a result of COVID-19,” said Adam Froman, Founder and CEO of Delvinia. “These insights are being derived from the data we have collected for this study, and are providing a variety of organizations valuable insight to continue to address the mental health crisis caused by the pandemic. This is why it has been so important for us to make all the research data available for free through Methodify by Delvinia. Having access to this kind of data allows CAMH and other mental health organizations to develop the programs and tools needed to help those
who are suffering.”
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 conducted between September 18 and 22, 2020. It will be redeployed in the coming weeks as the pandemic continues.
An interactive dashboard highlighting key survey findings is 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 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.
CAMH Media Relations