One-third of Canadians at ‘high risk’ for mental health concerns: poll

WATCH: A new poll for Global News offers some insight into the mental health of Canadians, suggesting there’s a disconnect between our perceptions and how we’re really doing. As Jennifer Tryon reports, it seems many Canadians don’t realize they need help and those that do have trouble finding it.

While Canadians say they feel good about their mental well-being, one in three people are classified as high risk for a potential mental health issue, according to a new poll released exclusively to Global News.

Just days before the start of Mental Health Week, a new Ipsos poll suggests that 33 per cent of Canadians are at risk of suffering from mental health issues and another 18 per cent rely on medication to manage stress. Canadians may not be aware of the severity of their mental health woes though – 90 per cent of those polled said their mental state is in great shape.

“There’s a whole percentage of Canadians who are diagnosing themselves as being okay but when a test is administered to them about the kind of stress they’re under and they’re taking time away from work because of it, they’re not seeing the fact that [they’re] in a risk area,” John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos Reid, told Global News.
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WATCH: John Wright, senior vice-president of Ipsos, talks about the findings of a new poll which suggests  one in three people are classified as high risk for a potential mental health issue

“What this study is showing is there are people looking through rose-coloured glasses and saying ‘I’m fine,’ but when you break down the material elements of their lives and how they’re feeling, they’re not. They should realize that it’s okay but that you need to make some adjustments,” he said.

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READ MORE: How open are Canadians about mental health in the workplace?

When asked if they’ve ever felt depressed to the point of feeling hopelessness almost every day for weeks at a time, 15 per cent of Canadians conceded that this happened to them several times in the past year. Seventeen per cent said it happened to them at least once, too.

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Another 30 per cent of Canadians said that stress was also eating away at their daily lives in the past year. Twenty-two per cent of those polled said it happened at least once.

In 17 per cent of Canadians, the stress became so overwhelming they felt like they couldn’t cope or deal with the situation a handful of times throughout the year. Another two-in-10 Canadians felt that way at least once.

The pollsters said respondents were “high risk” for mental health issues if they said they encountered any of the above scenarios two or three times. Based on that definition, 33 per cent of Canadians are at high risk, while another 26 per cent are at moderate risk and 42 per cent of Canadians are at low risk.

READ MORE: Work-life balance, job insecurity key mental health factors in the workplace

Twelve per cent of Canadians missed social gatherings and family events because of their mental health while 11 per cent took time off of school or work. Five per cent of Canadians have even stepped away from their responsibilities to help a loved one struggling with a mental health issue.

There was some good news: 31 per cent of Canadians were talking about mental health issues, a subject that often carries stigma. Twenty-four per cent of Canadians said they talked to their family and friends about mental health concerns and another 16 per cent talked to their doctors.

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Eleven per cent even touched base with a counsellor, psychologist or psychiatrist. Those who fell into the high risk category were most likely to seek help. Still, 41 per cent of that group was suffering in silence, the results suggest.

Wright said that talking about mental health is a great step forward but that the services need to follow next.

“We’ve created a condition where many people can talk about it,” Wright said.

“There are not enough psychiatrists, not enough psychologists, and a lot of people aren’t exactly sure how to enter the system and as a result of that, people are still being left behind and still being left out,” he said.

READ MORE: Misconceptions about depression

Earlier this year, a Centre for Addiction and Mental Health poll found that four in 10 Canadians wouldn’t tell their boss if they had a mental health problem. But the poll results suggested that if Canadians knew about a colleague’s mental distress, he or she would help.

Wright said that it could take months for employees to reintegrate into their workplace, but it’s not because of stigma. Managers and fellow colleagues could be concerned about their coworker’s mental well-being – they could be trying to slowly reintegrate their colleague so he or she isn’t overwhelmed, he said.

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Between April 16 and April 20, 2,010 Canadian adults were interviewed online for the survey, which was weighted to bring it in line with Canadian demographics and which has a margin error of 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20 had all Canadians been polled.

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911. 911 can send immediate help. Visit for a list of resources.

Exclusive Global News Ipsos polls are protected by copyright. The information and/or data may only be rebroadcast or republished with full and proper credit and attribution to “Global News Ipsos Reid.” This poll was conducted between April 2 and April 7, with a sample of 1,001 Canadians and is accurate to within 3.5 percentage points 19 times out of 20.

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