Once unspoken, hidden away in back rooms and stigmatized, mental illness is finally becoming more accepted and understood as the serious problem that it is. While in the past, most people with a mental illness suffered in silence, this is becoming less the case every day. More people than ever before, including celebrities, professionals, big corporations and mental health advocates, are talking about mental illness and bringing it into the public consciousness.
And it’s become even more of a focus as people have developed anxieties related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, 21% of Canadians who were screened during a survey late in 2020 were found to have at least one of three mental disorders: major depressive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and posttraumatic stress disorder. And 68% of those people reported worsened mental health during the pandemic. Mental health professionals know that these trends will likely continue even post-pandemic and are encouraging employers to make wellness resources easy to access.
WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?
The Canadian Mental Health Association defines mental illness as “disturbances in thoughts, feelings, and perceptions that are severe enough to affect day-to-day functioning.” Common mental illnesses include anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders, personality disorders, alcohol and drug addiction, and suicidal thoughts or behaviour.
FACTS & STATS THAT PAINT A SURPRISING PICTURE
- Mental illness affects 1 in 3 Canadians in their lifetime
- Mental disorders comprise 5 of the top 10 leading causes of disability worldwide
- Children have reported a significant deterioration in mental health during the pandemic, in 70.2% of 6- to 18-year-olds and 66.1% of 2- to 5-year-olds
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, education levels, incomes and cultures
- 22% of Canadians report being diagnosed with depression
- 20% of Canadians report being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder
- The pandemic has increased the prevalence of suicidal thoughts from 2.5% of Canadians in 2019 to 6% in 2020
- The suicide rate for Canada’s First Nations people is 3 times higher than for non-Indigenous people
THE PERSONAL TOLL
On a personal level, mental illness can cause you to withdraw from your family, daily activities and social life. It can damage or destroy marriages, cause problems holding down a job, and affect interpersonal relationships. One third of all workplace disability claims is due to mental illness. It can cause you to avoid exercise, engage in high-risk activities, in the case of drug and substance abuse, and impair judgement. There can also be legal consequences if civil or criminal acts are involved. At its most extreme, it can be fatal if it ends in suicide.
MENTAL ILLNESS AND MARRIAGE
Pre-pandemic, divorce rates in Canada were around 50% to 52%, but that has risen to about 65% during the pandemic, largely due to stress, which can lead to mental illness. And mental illness can be devastating to a marriage, both to the spouse suffering and the spouse who has to care for the sufferer.
THE TWO COSTS OF MENTAL ILLNESS
There isn't just one cost of mental illness. Along with the personal cost comes a financial one. While mental health issues are best known for their effect on our health, happiness and well-being, they also have a major economic impact in the form of medical expenses and an inability to work. The cost of mental illness on the Canadian economy amounts to $1,400 per person each year.
The World Health Organization estimates that between 30% and 80% of people with mental health issues don’t seek treatment, due to everything from stigma to cost. But this doesn’t need to be the case. After all, why should mental health care be a “luxury” accessible only to those with the financial means to afford it? Mental health care should be available to every person who needs it.
CoverMe’s Health & Dental Plans can help make this possible. They are specifically designed to help meet the changing needs of Canadians. They can help cover doctor-prescribed visits to registered psychologists, registered marriage and family therapists, registered social workers, and counsellors for eating disorders, alcohol and drug abuse, and much more. Plans are customizable and could help save you hundreds of dollars a year in out-of-pocket health and dental costs.
So if you or someone you care about is suffering from mental health issues, make sure communication and seeking help are priorities. And remember that seeking help can be made more affordable with a CoverMe Health plan.
- Statistics Canada, “Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health, September to December 2020,” March 18, 2021.
- bnnbloomberg.ca, “Employers brace for COVID’s mental health fallout as workers return,” May 5, 2021.
- cmha.ca, “Mental health: What is it, really?” January 13, 2020.
- Alberta Blue Cross, “Let’s talk about mental illness,” February 5, 2020.
- sickkids.ca, “New research reveals impact of COVID-19 pandemic on child and youth mental health,” February 26, 2021.
- ctvnews.ca, “Canadians reporting more anxiety and depression than ever before, poll finds,” January 14, 2021.
- cmha.ca, “Warning signs: more Canadians thinking about suicide during pandemic,” June 25, 2020.
- globalnews.ca, “First Nations suicide rate 3 times higher than for non-Indigenous people: StatsCan,” July 9, 2019.
- globalnews.ca, “‘I couldn’t believe it’ – why disability claims for mental health are often a struggle,” May 26, 2019.
- saltwire.com, “The pandemic has kept divorce lawyers busy,” February 23, 2021.
- theglobeandmail.com, “Mental illness costs the economy $1,400 per Canadian each year, so we can’t afford to skimp on services,” January 28, 2020.
- highwatchrecovery.org, “Why Don’t People Seek Help for Mental Illness?” January 15, 2019.