April 13, 2021 (Toronto) — As the COVID-19 pandemic enters its second year, the ongoing survey of Canadians’ health and substance use in collaboration with research technology and consumer data collection company Delvinia, indicates that levels of anxiety, depressive symptoms, loneliness and binge drinking remain nearly as high as they were in late May 2020.
The seventh in the series of surveys was conducted with 1,000 adults between March 19 and 23, 2021. Overall, 20.9 per cent of respondents indicated moderate to severe anxiety levels, 20.1 per cent reported feeling depressed, and 21.3 percent reported feelings of loneliness.
“The mental health system in Canada was already under extreme duress before the pandemic began,” said CAMH Psychiatrist Dr. David Gratzer, adding that visits to the CAMH Emergency Department had doubled in just the past seven years before the pandemic began. “If this is the new normal in terms of the mental health of Canadians, providing adequate support is unsustainable without a significant increase in resources.”
An area that showed a decrease was in regard to worry about getting COVID-19, which went from 29 per cent to 24.6 per cent since the last survey in late November 2020.
“It is possible that the beginning of the vaccines’ rollout combined with feelings of ‘COVID fatigue’ may have led some Canadians to let their guard down a bit about the perceived risk of contracting COVID-19,” said Dr. Tara Elton-Marshall, Independent Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Research at CAMH. “But with cases and hospitalizations on the rise and several provinces implementing more lockdown restrictions again, these data indicate the need for continued public policy messaging about maintaining vigilance and adhering to safety precautions like hand-washing, mask-wearing and social distancing to reduce the spread of the disease.”
Key Survey Findings
- Overall, 20.9 per cent of survey respondents indicated moderate to severe anxiety levels in the past week. There was a significant gender gap, with 24.4 per cent of women versus 17.3 per cent of men reporting anxiety.
- 21.3 per cent of respondents reported that they felt lonely occasionally or most of the time in the past week. Again there was a significant gender gap, with 24.2 per cent of women feeling lonely compared to 18.3 per cent of men.
- 20.1 per cent of participants reported feeling depressed occasionally or most of the time in the past week. Those with children under 18 were significantly more likely to report feeling depressed (25.6 per cent), compared to those without children (18.3 per cent). Consistent with previous surveys during the COVID-19 pandemic, participants aged 60 and over were significantly less likely to report feeling depressed than the general population.
- 25.7 per cent of participants reported binge drinking in the previous week, a number that has remained relatively consistent throughout the pandemic. Men were significantly more likely to report binge drinking (31.3 per cent) compared to women (19.6 per cent).
- The most common coping strategies used by Canadians during the pandemic remain: following a routine, connecting socially with family or friends online or over the phone, and dedicating time to themselves. Just under one in five Canadians (19.5 per cent) sought help for mental health concerns from a counsellor or health care provider online or in person.
As part of this survey, Canadians were asked for the first time about their intentions with regards to getting a COVID-19 vaccine. Of those who had not been vaccinated, 66.4 per cent indicated they definitely planned to get a vaccine and another 21.8 per cent said they probably would. Just over one in ten, (11.8 per cent) indicated they definitely or probably would not get a vaccine.
“While these numbers are encouraging, vaccine hesitancy remains a concern and robust public policy efforts to encourage Canadians to get the vaccine should be a priority,” said Dr. Hayley Hamilton, Senior Scientist at the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH.
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 1,000 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. Data was collected between March 19 to 23, 2021.
An interactive dashboard highlighting findings from each of the seven ongoing surveys can be viewed on CAMH’s website at camh.ca/covid19dashboard. That page also provides a link to access and download for free the full survey data courtesy of the Methodify by Delvinia platform. 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