Amid a year of job loss, social isolation and travel restrictions, the coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on Canadians, as many struggled with mental health and addiction issues, according to recent Ipsos polling.
The Ipsos poll conducted exclusively for Global News found that nearly four in 10 respondents said they have faced mental health, addiction or alcohol issues in some form over the past year.
“It’s one of those situations where you start to see the cracks coming together … The younger people are less likely to say that they’re doing well in this circumstance,” Darrell Bricker, CEO of Ipsos, said.
“And one of the things that seem to be affecting their lives is the reliance on alcohol addiction and mental health issues, which are more highly correlated with youth than with older people.”
Younger Canadians were more likely to say they’ve struggled with these issues, the poll said.
Fourteen per cent of respondents aged 18 to 34 said they have struggled with addiction, compared to two per cent of those aged 55 plus.
Twenty-eight per cent of respondents said they grappled with their mental health, which was higher among young people (ages 18 to 34), women and those in households earning less than $40,000 a year.
With some Canadians organizing virtual happy hours with family and friends or taking to daytime drinking to cope with the stresses of the pandemic, the poll found that 15 per cent of Canadians said they’ve consumed more alcohol in the past year.
Opioid overdoses across Canada have risen sharply since March. Alberta and British Columbia recorded the highest numbers of opioid-related deaths this year. And experts say social isolation, mixed with closures of clinics and services, has added to the problem.
Young people struggling more
Bricker explained that due to job loss and social isolation, younger Canadians seem to be struggling more with the pandemic.
Although older Canadians are at the most risk of having complications from COVID-19, he said this age group’s relatively comfortable financial situation has helped them weather the crisis.
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The Ipsos poll found that 66 per cent of Canadians rate their financial situation as “good,” with this proportion reaching 76 per cent among those over 55 years.
Those under 55 years old were more likely to say their financial situation was bad, with 14 per cent of those aged 18 to 34 and 12 per cent of those aged 35 to 54 saying their financial situation is “very bad.”
“Elderly people are actually usually reasonably well-off. They’ve got, for the most part, good homes. They’ve found a way to save for their retirement. Their kids have all moved out and moved on to other stages of life,” Bricker said.
“If you want to find the trouble spots, you want to find the cracks, go to Canadians under the age of 35 because that’s where you really start to see the cracks.”
And the polling seems to reflect that.
Despite a tumultuous year, 78 per cent of Canadians said the coronavirus pandemic has changed little in terms of their overall well-being, the poll found. This is only a one-point decrease from the same time last year.
Among those aged 55 plus, the proportion of those who rate their personal happiness as either “very good” or “somewhat good” increased to 87 per cent.
Twenty-eight per cent of those aged 18 to 34 and 35 to 54 rated their happiness as “bad,” but only 13 per cent of those aged 55 plus said the same.
Canadians seemed to also struggle with their weight amid the pandemic, the poll found.
Three in 10 respondents said they have gained weight in the past year, with more women (35 per cent) than men (24 per cent) saying they’re a little heavier in December than they were in January.
“It‘s one of those things where people have either they’ve either eaten their feelings or they’ve gone in the other direction, and they decided to do something about their health. But the preponderance right now is that people feel that they put on weight, especially women,” Bricker said.
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.” This poll was conducted between Dec. 11 and Dec. 14, 2020, with a sample of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ from Ipsos’ online panel. The precision of Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. This poll is accurate to within ± 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, had all Canadians aged 18+ been polled.