By Joey Chini, CTVNews.ca Writer-Producer
Calgary, Alberta (CTV Network) — More than five million Canadians experienced some form of mental health disorder in 2022, a new Statistics Canada study has revealed. StatCan says those Canadians “met the diagnostic criteria for a mood, anxiety or substance use disorder, with the prevalence of mood and anxiety disorders increasing substantially over the previous 10 years.” In the study, “Mental disorders and access to mental health care,” published Friday, the government agency used data from the Mental Health and Access to Care Survey to analyze the number of Canadians who meet the criteria for mental health disorders, whether they have been diagnosed by a doctor or not. StatCan says the percentage of Canadians aged 15 years and older who have a generalized anxiety disorder doubled over a decade, rising to 5.2 per cent in 2022 from 2.6 per cent in 2012. The study also found similar increases in people who reported a major depressive episode in the last 12 months, up to 7.6 per cent in 2022 from 4.7 per cent in 2012, and bipolar disorders, which rose to 2.1 per cent from 1.5 per cent over the same period. The largest increases were seen in women aged 15 to 24 years old — the prevalence of generalized anxiety disorder tripled and major depressive episodes doubled, StatCan said. While the study notes data on social anxiety or social phobia was not available in 2012, comparisons with data from 2002 suggests a massive increase in the percentage of young women with social anxiety, reaching 24.7 per cent in 2022 from 6.1 per cent in 2002. StatCan says while some of these increases can be attributed to stress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, “the overall worsening of mental health among young people was observed well before 2020.” SUBSTANCE ABUSE Despite a higher number of deaths caused by alcohol and accidental poisonings, including drug overdoses, the percentage of Canadians aged 15 years and older who met the criteria for an alcohol use disorder diagnosis in the past year fell to 2.2 per cent in 2022 from 3.2 per cent in 2012. StatCan says the decrease was driven by changes in men aged 15 to 24 years old. The percentage of Canadians who met the criteria for cannabis and other substance use disorders remained relatively steady, according to the study. Across all racialized groups, the overall prevalence of mood, anxiety and substance use disorders varied, StatCan said. “The prevalence was lower among Chinese, Filipino, South Asian and Black people in Canada, as compared with non-racialized, non-Indigenous people. Differences in prevalence could be related to socio-cultural differences in willingness to report symptoms of mental illness or related to the stigma associated with mental illness,” StatCan said. GETTING HELP Just under half of Canadians aged 15 and older (48.8 per cent) who met the criteria for a disorder in the past year said they had spoken with a health professional about their mental health in the last 12 months. According to the study, these individuals were more likely to ask their family doctor for help, while smaller percentages reported talking to a psychiatrist, psychologist or psychotherapist. Counselling is the most common form of mental health care in Canada (43.8 per cent) for people with a mental health disorder. Medication (36.5 per cent) and mental health information (32 per cent) were second and third most common respectively. Despite the popularity of counselling, people were most likely to report feeling unsatisfied or having their needs unmet by counselling services compared to those who took medication or needed more information. METHODOLOGY The Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS) collects information on the mental health status of Canadians, as well as their access to and need for services and supports, whether formal or informal. This survey also aims to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population health and evaluate changes in patterns of mental health and the use of services in the previous 10 years. This analysis is based on data collected from March 17 to July 31, 2022. MHACS used a modified version of the World Health Organization’s Composite International Diagnostic Interview to classify people with select mood, anxiety or substance use disorders. Although this is not a clinical diagnosis, this is a standardized instrument that is used to assess mental disorders in population surveys according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders version IV (DSM-IV) criteria. For this study, prevalence estimates for each disorder included whether diagnostic criteria were met within the 12 months before completing the survey. This 12-month prevalence was used when evaluating the use of mental health care services among people with mental disorders. For more information on survey definitions and methods, refer to the Statistics Canada survey information page: Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS) If you or someone you know is in crisis or struggling with addiction or mental health matters, the following resources may be available to you: Hope for Wellness Helpline for Indigenous Peoples (English, French, Cree, Ojibway and Inuktitut): 1-855-242-3310 Wellness Together Canada: 1-866-585-0445 Drug Rehab Services: 1-877-254-3348 SMART Recovery Families for Addiction Recovery: 1-855-377-6677 Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline: 1-833-456-4566 Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: 1-800-463-2338 Crisis Services Canada: 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868 If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
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