Half of adult Canadians (49%) say they’ve experienced a mental health issue at some point in their lives. Think about that for a moment. Statistically, that’s one person in every marriage. It’s two of the four friends you had over for dinner last weekend. And despite recent efforts to promote dialogue on the important subject of mental health, 27% of those who say they’ve had an issue did not discuss it with a health professional.
David (not his real name) has lived with both anxiety and depression since childhood. You’d never know it, though. The 43-year-old has developed coping mechanisms to get through the bad days. “My wife’s the only person in the world I’ve ever told,” he says. “I hear people speaking publicly about their experiences, and I admire them. But that’s not a risk I’m going to take.”
David isn’t alone. More than one-third of adults (37%) across Canada say they’ve experienced anxiety. That’s according to an Ipsos study called The Sun Life Financial Barometer. Anxiety is among the most common conditions. Three in 10 have had depression, 6% report debilitating stress, 6% an eating disorder, 4% post-traumatic stress disorder and 4% substance use disorder.
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Not all of these folks have had a professional diagnosis. But these results are consistent with figures reported by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). About half of Canadians will experience mental illness before their 40th birthday, according to CMHA.
Millennials and the less wealthy
Two segments stand out in the results:
- Six in 10 millennials (63%) say they’ve dealt with a mental health issue. That’s higher than Generation X (50%), late boomers (41%), early boomers (36%) and pre-boomers (33%). Half (51%) of millennials report living with anxiety and 37% with depression.
- More than half of Canadians (54%) with an annual household income below $50,000 report one or more mental health issues. Among Canadians with a household income between $50,000 and $99,999, the figure is 47%. Among Canadians with $100,000 or more in yearly pay, 49% report mental illness. Four in 10 (39%) of those with an annual household income under $50,000 have anxiety and 36% have depression.
You’re not alone
As these numbers make clear, many Canadians struggle with mental health issues at some point in their lives. But people like David don’t have to deal with this alone.
If your employer sponsors a workplace benefit plan, there’s a good chance it covers helpful professional services. Take advantage.
And make sure you have a strong network of friends and family members you can talk to. It’s up to you to decide how open you are with them. Just know that they care about you and want to help.