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When it comes to the pandemic and mental health, we’re not all equal

The COVID-19 pandemic is a sudden, unprecedented situation that has disrupted the lives of all Canadians and put us under tremendous stress. The pandemic continues to have a significant, long-lasting impact on everyone’s mental health, given the economic uncertainty and climate of anxiety in which we find ourselves.

The pandemic lays bare persistent inequalities

While we are all feeling the effects of the pandemic, some of us are more adversely affected, in particular parents, people already struggling with mental illness or mental health problems, people who are Indigenous, people of colour and those in the LGBTQ+ community.

These are the findings from a recent national survey by CMHA working with a group of researchers from UBC.1 The study reveals that suicidal thoughts and psychological distress are on the rise and that the pandemic accentuates persistent inequalities, worsening the situation of those who were already vulnerable or marginalized.

This is why it is essential that we act now to put in place a comprehensive, long-term suicide prevention plan and invest appropriately in Canada’s mental health care system.

Here are some of the findings of the survey:

1 – Suicidal thoughts have doubled since the beginning of the crisis compared with 2019, when 2.5% of Canadians reported having had suicidal thoughts in the previous year.2  This effect is felt even more among people in vulnerable populations.

Vulnerable Populations

2 – Those who were already struggling with their mental health are among those whose mental health has suffered the most as a result of the crisis.

Vulnerable Populations

3 – People with low incomes have had trouble coping with the crisis.

Vulnerable Populations

4 – People who are Indigenous have suffered more from the crisis than the general public.

Vulnerable Populations

5 – Parents (with children under the age of 18) have suffered as a result of the crisis and have faced unique challenges: e.g., work-life balance, homeschooling, child welfare.

Vulnerable Populations

To view the full report, visit: COVID-19 effects on the mental health of vulnerable populations