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B.C. COVID-19 survey shows decline in mental health, concern about staying home when sick

Click to play video 'British Columbians report worsening mental health in survey because of pandemic health' British Columbians report worsening mental health in survey because of pandemic health
Dr. Bonnie Henry reports that a province-wide survey asking British Columbians about the impact on their lives from COVID-19 shows a significant number of people have experienced decreased mental health.

The first glimpse at a province-wide survey asking British Columbians about the impact on their lives from COVID-19 shows major concerns among many.

Nearly half, 47 per cent, of respondents, say they have seen their mental health worsen due to the pandemic. One in ten B.C. adults, 394,382, filled out the “Your story, our future” survey.

The unprecedentedly large public survey found 15 per cent of British Columbians said they were not working following the height of the pandemic, 33 per cent had difficulty accessing healthcare, and five per cent will likely have to move due to affordability.

The survey was available to the public from April 24 to May 12, 2020. A vast majority of the respondents were women, accounting for 70.2 per cent of the surveys filled out. The data has been weighted to reflect the gender breakdown of the province.

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According to the survey, 89 per cent of respondents were avoiding gatherings.

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Skipping out on work due to illness was one of the policy weaknesses noted by the survey. Nearly 80 per cent of respondents say they can stay home when sick, but just 67 per cent do stay home when they are sick.

“We need to address why people can’t stay home when they are sick,” reads a note in the survey presentation.

Read more: Pub and restaurant in Kelowna, B.C., close temporarily after workers test positive for COVID-19

The pandemic has hit younger British Columbians harder than it has the general population. Respondents aged 18 to 19 reported higher levels of decreased mental health, increased difficulty accessing counseling services, and increased difficulty meeting financial needs compared to the overall adult population.

Forty-one per cent of respondents 18 to 29 years of age says they are seeing an increased difficulty meeting financial needs compared to 31 per cent of the adult population. More than half, 55 per cent, said they have seen decreased mental health compared to 47 per cent of the general population.

Youth unemployment has been a major factor in both meeting financial needs and mental health, with 28 per cent of young people saying they are not working due to COVID-19. Alcohol consumption has gone up for 36 per cent of young people, compared to 28 per cent for the adult population.

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