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Wednesday, September 3, 2003

Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well-being

2002

As many Canadians suffer from major depression as from other leading chronic conditions, including heart disease, diabetes or a thyroid condition, according to new data on mental health and well-being from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS).

Some 4% of people interviewed in the survey reported having experienced symptoms or feelings associated with major depression, compared with 5% with diabetes, 5% with heart disease and 6% with a thyroid condition.

While all mental health disorders could not be included, major depression was one of five mental health disorders assessed by the survey. The others were mania disorder, panic disorder, social phobia and agoraphobia, as well as alcohol and illicit drug dependence

Measured mental disorders or substance dependence in the past 12 months
  Total Males Females
  Number % Number % Number %
Major depression 1,120,000 4.5 420,000 3.4 700,000 5.5
Mania disorder 190,000 0.8 90,000 0.7 100,000 0.8
Any mood 1,210,000 4.9 460,000 3.8 750,000 5.9
Panic disorder 400,000 1.6 130,000 1.1 270,000 2.1
Agoraphobia 180,000 0.7 40,000 0.4 140,000 1.1
Social anxiety disorder (Social phobia) 750,000 3.0 310,000 2.6 430,000 3.4
Any anxiety 1,180,000 4.7 440,000 3.6 740,000 5.8
Alcohol dependence 640,000 2.6 470,000 3.8 170,000 1.3
Illicit drugs dependence 170,000 0.7 120,000 1.0 50,000 0.4
Substance dependence 740,000 3.0 540,000 4.4 200,000 1.6
Total - Any measured disorder or substance dependence 2,600,000 10.4 1,190,000 9.7 1,410,000 11.1

One out of every 10 Canadians aged 15 and over, about 2.6 million people, reported symptoms consistent with alcohol or illicit drug dependence, or one of the five mental disorders covered in the survey, at some time during the 12 months prior to the interview.


Note to readers

This release is based on data collected from May 2002 to December 2002 from the second cycle of the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). The survey collected information from about 37,000 individuals, aged 15 and older, in all provinces. Information and definitions related to this release are now available.

Each two-year collection cycle of the CCHS is composed of two distinct surveys: a sub-provincial health region-level survey in the first year, and a provincial-level survey in the second year with focus content on a special topic.

This second cycle is designed to provide reliable, comprehensive and comparable data on selected mental health conditions.

The target population of the second cycle of CCHS includes household residents aged 15 and older in all provinces, but excludes Indian Reserves, full-time members of the Canadian Armed Forces, health care institutions, and some remote areas.

This article focuses on mental health and health care use. A substantial amount of additional information, including provincial statistics, is now available.

The Canadian Forces commissioned Statistics Canada to conduct a survey on mental health and well being. Results from the Canadian Forces 2002 - Canadian Community Health Survey Supplement on Mental Health and Well-being will be available September 5, 2003.


According to the World Health Organization, five of the 10 leading causes of disability are related to mental disorders. It predicts that in less than 20 years depression will be the second-leading cause of disability in the world. Health Canada estimates that in 1998, mental disorders were the third highest source of direct health care costs at $4.7 billion.

The overall prevalence rates for the surveyed mental health disorders and substance dependencies were about the same for women as for men. About 1.4 million women, or 11% of the total, experienced such symptoms, compared with 10%, or 1.2 million, men.

While the overall rate was similar between men and women, there were differences by type of disorder. The surveyed mood disorders and anxiety disorders are more common for women. For the mood disorders surveyed, 6% of women reported feelings and symptoms consistent with a major depression or mania; 4% of men reported similar experiences for the same period.

For the anxiety disorders covered, 6% of women and 4% of men reported feelings and symptoms consistent with panic disorder, agoraphobia or social phobia.

The prevalence rate for substance dependence on alcohol and illicit drugs is much more common for men (4%) than for women (2%).

Youth aged 15-24 most likely to suffer from selected mental disorders or substance dependence problems

Although mental disorders are present throughout all stages of life, results show differences according to age groups.

Teenagers and young adults aged between 15 and 24 were most likely to report suffering from the surveyed mental disorders and substance dependence problems.

About 18% of those aged 15 to 24 reported having experienced feelings and symptoms consistent with any of the five mental disorders or two substance dependencies covered. Among those aged 25-44, almost 12% had these feelings and symptoms, while about 8% of those aged 45-64 and less than 3% of seniors aged 65 and over reported likewise.

Alcohol and illicit drug dependencies affect many more teenagers and young adults aged 15 to 24. Almost 8% of them reported these substance dependencies, while about 3% of those aged 25 to 44 had similar problems.

Majority suffering from selected mental disorders or substance dependence did not seek professional help

Despite the distress often associated with the experience of mental illness, only 32% of those who had feelings and symptoms consistent with the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependencies saw or talked to a health professional during the 12 months prior to the survey. These professionals include a psychiatrist, a family physician, a medical specialist, a psychologist or a nurse.

When people did see or talk to a health professional for problems related to their emotions or alcohol or drug use, family physicians were most often consulted. Nearly 26% of people with any of the surveyed mental disorders relied on these professionals at least once during the year prior to the interview. Similarly, psychiatrists were consulted by almost 12%, while psychologists were consulted by just over 8%.

People who experienced feelings and symptoms consistent with a surveyed mental disorder or substance dependence also reported consulting other types of professionals. About 10% saw or talked to a social worker during the 12-month period prior to the survey. Religious or spiritual advisors such as a priest, chaplain or rabbi were consulted by nearly 4%.

In addition to the professional consultations and services discussed above, other methods used by Canadians who suffered from the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependencies included: self-help groups (5%), telephone hot line (2%) and Internet support group (2%).

Overall, almost 1 million Canadians, or 37% of those who suffered from any of the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependence, used some type of health care or community resource for their emotions, mental health or problems with alcohol or drug use.

Teens, young adults least likely to use mental health resources despite higher prevalence

Although the new survey data show that teenagers and young adults suffer more from the mental disorders covered than other age groups, they were the least likely to use any resources for problems concerning their mental health or use of alcohol or illicit drugs. One quarter of those aged between 15 and 24 reported having used some type of resources such as consultation with any health professional, religious advisor, group support or telephone helpline during the year prior to the survey.

Adults aged 25 to 64 were most likely to draw on mental health care resources related to their problems; however, only about 45% reported using such resources, while one-third of seniors aged 65 and over drew upon any health care resources.

One out of five who suffered from a mental disorder or substance dependence reported a perceived unmet need

About 21% of individuals with any of the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependencies reported feeling they needed help for their emotions, mental health or use of alcohol or drugs, but did not receive it during the 12 months prior to the interview.

The survey collected information on why people did not get any help for their emotions, mental health or use of alcohol or drugs. More than one reason could be reported and the three most frequently reported reasons chosen were: 31% reported that they preferred to manage themselves; 19% reported they did not get around to it, or did not bother; 18% reported that they were afraid to ask for help, or they were afraid of what others would think.

Slightly more women reported such perceived unmet mental health care needs. Over 22% reported they needed help for their emotions, mental health or use of alcohol or drugs but did not receive it, while fewer than 20% of men reported a similar problem.

Seniors aged 65 and over reported far fewer unmet needs. Nearly 9% felt that they needed but did not receive help.

Looking at unmet needs by age group, the proportion was highest for those aged 15-24 at 24%, and 22% for those aged 25-44. For those with one of the measured mental health disorders or substance abuse dependencies aged 45-64, the proportion reporting unmet mental health needs was 17%.

Vast majority satisfied with help received for mental health problems

Although utilisation rates for mental health care services were low, high satisfaction levels were reported by those who did consult professionals for problems with emotions, mental health or with the use of alcohol or drugs.

Over 82% of those who were found to have feelings or symptoms consistent with the selected mental disorders and substance dependencies and also consulted a professional reported being satisfied or very satisfied with the treatments and services received by the health professional consulted.

The help received from these professionals was also perceived to be positive. Overall, professional consultations for problems with emotions, mental health or use of alcohol or drugs were considered "a lot helpful" by 60% of the respondents who suffered from any of the surveyed disorders and substance dependencies.

Women reported more disability days due to mental disorder

During the two-week period prior to the survey, the vast majority of Canadians with the surveyed mental conditions did not report being disabled by them. However, 6% of Canadians with any of the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependencies reported at least one disability day. This was an occasion in which they had to stay in bed or cut down on their activities because of their emotional or mental health, or the use of alcohol or drugs.

On average, men and women reported about the same number of disability days due to their emotional or mental health or use of alcohol or drugs. Over 6% of women and 5% of men who suffered from any mental disorder or substance dependence reported at least one day of disability during the 14 days prior to the interview.

People who have experienced feelings and symptoms consistent with any of the surveyed mental disorders or substance dependencies also reported more disability due to physical causes. Over 20% of those with at least one of the covered mental disorders or substance dependencies reported having to stay in bed or cut down on their activities because of some physical cause. However, only 12% of Canadians who did not experience such mental health problems reported this kind of disability.

The publication Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well-being, 2002 (82-617-XIE, free) is now available on Statistics Canada's website (). From the Our products and services page, under Browse our Internet publications, choose Free, then Health.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 5015.

For more information about the Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well-being cycle, or to enquire about the concepts, methods or data quality, contact Lorna Bailie (613-951-0837; lorna.bailie@statcan.gc.ca), Health Statistics Division.

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Date Modified: 2003-09-03 Important Notices