FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Ontarians feel anxious and crave real connection,
but say they’re doing “fine”
SUDBURY, May 4, 2020 – Most Ontarians rely on shortcuts to describe their emotional state—even during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to new data released today by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in partnership with Maru/Matchbox, 77 per cent of those asked “how are you?” rely on “I’m fine, thanks” to express how they’re doing, despite the fact that Ontarians are feeling more negative emotions than positive ones these days (53% negative vs. 47% positive). The data were released to mark Canada’s 69th annual Mental Health Week, which runs May 4-10, 2020.
Despite a pandemic-driven growth in video-conferencing and social media usage, Canadians are feeling more isolated than ever (up 8 points from 39% to 47% in less than one month) and crave real, meaningful connections. In fact, two-thirds of Canadians (66%) report they would like to experience more meaningful social interactions in their daily life.
“Most Canadians want more social connection, yet they’re reluctant to have the kind of honest, open conversations that build the connection they crave,” says Margaret Eaton, national CEO of CMHA. “In our society, it’s a cultural norm to ask people how they’re doing, but not to expect, nor provide, a truthful answer. This Mental Health Week, it’s time to get real about how we feel. It’s clear we need each other more than ever.”
Prior to the global pandemic, loneliness was already a major public health concern. People with weak or few social connections are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and suicide. And a lack of strong relationships has the same negative impact on life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.
Due to physical distancing measures, people are isolated in their homes, missing out on family events and in-person activities and it appears they’re feeling it. Almost half of Canadians are feeling anxious (47%), and only eight per cent are feeling happy. As we face social distancing measures, it’s important to note that people don’t need to be close to feel close.
“It doesn’t just feel good to connect—it’s actually good for everyone’s mental health,” says Patty MacDonald, CEO CMHA-S/M.
Strong social networks lead to better self-esteem, coping mechanisms and a sense of well-being, and reduce depression and distress by providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement.
CMHA-S/M recently launched a new virtual resource called Here2Help, in response to the significant mental health toll that COVID-19 is taking on our community. In this uncertain time, it is crucial that we all have access to virtual mental health support to take care of our mental health needs. Here2Help links those in need of immediate mental health support to virtual care, including peer support, psychotherapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) as well as online resources from the most reliable sources. A key feature of Here2Help is CMHA-S/M’s new electronic self-referral form. This provides a fast and simple opportunity to access our services. An Intake Worker will respond to you within 1 business day and refer you to the most appropriate CMHA program, based on your individual needs, or refer you to other community supports. We are Here 2 Help. Contact us now.
The focus of this year’s Mental Health Week is to promote social connection and the role it plays in good mental health. To get involved, you can:
- Learn more about your mental health and how to feel close even when we can’t be at ca/yourmentalhealth. CMHA-S/M is hosting a new series of FREE virtual mental health presentations, starting this month. The first presentation called Supporting your Mental Health during the Pandemic is scheduled for Wednesday, May 20th at 10am via ZOOM Platform. Sign up on our website: https://sm.cmha.ca/events/virtual-presentation-supporting-your-mental-health-during-the-pandemic/
- Share your support on social media by downloading a toolkit at ca/toolkit and using hashtags #GetReal #MentalHealthWeek and #TogetherApart
- Donate to support CMHA mental health programs and services at https://sm.cmha.ca/get-involved/donate/
- If you or someone you love is struggling, please contact us at 705-675-7252 to find out about virtual and phone-based support services there to help you. Or, visit the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together portal.
Mental Health Week was introduced by CMHA in 1951 and has since become a Canadian tradition. To learn more, please visit www.mentalhealthweek.ca
About the Data
CMHA partnered with Maru/Matchbox to conduct an online survey among a total of 1,507 Canadian adults on April 15, 2020. A probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, nineteen times out of twenty. The sample was weighted to reflect the Canadian adult population according to the most recent Census data. Additional data was taken from Maru’s ongoing, near-daily FEEL, BEHAVE, THINK COVID-19 tracking study. For more information, please go to www.marureports.com/coronavirus
About Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin
The Canadian Mental Health Association – Sudbury/Manitoulin (CMHA-S/M) was established in 1984 and is a not-for-profit organization with a volunteer board of directors. The branch is mandated to provide services to individuals with mental health issues or a diagnosis of a mental illness within the Sudbury and Manitoulin districts. Our purpose is to support healthy people and communities through advocacy and the provision of safe, inclusive and accessible mental health and addictions services. CMHA is primarily funded by the Ministry of Health and also receives funds from the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services and the City of Sudbury.
For more information, contact:
Kayla Belanger, Health Promotion Coordinator
Canadian Mental Health Association, Sudbury/Manitoulin
T: 705-675-7252 ext. 236