Canada sees negative mental health score for fourth-straight month

Published August 6, 2020 at 12:12 am

Canadians are struggling with their mental health since the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent shutdown.

Canadians are struggling with their mental health since the COVID-19 outbreak and subsequent shutdown.

That’s according to the Mental Health Index from Morneau Shepell, which is showing a consistent negative mental health score in Canada.

According to the findings, there are two main contributors for Canadians’ poor mental health: the on-going pandemic, and the recent awareness that has been raised regarding anti-Black racism.

This month’s score is -10, which measures an the improvement or decline in mental health from the pre-2020 benchmark of 75.

While this month’s score is negative, it still represents a slight increase compared to last month’s, which was -11.

The Mental Health Index™ also tracks sub-scores against the benchmark, measuring the risk of depression -12.4, anxiety -12.3, optimism -11.4, work productivity -11.1 and isolation -11.

Additionally, although the sub-scores remain low, all areas have improved when compared to each previous month.

“July marks the fifth month since COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic and Canadians began experiencing a collective mental health crisis,” Stephen Liptrap, president and CEO for Morneau Shepell, said in a news release.

“While many businesses, amenities and public spaces have reopened and a slight sense of normalcy has started to emerge across the country, our Mental Health Index™ shows that improving mental wellbeing takes time. In addition to restarting the Canadian economy, it’s critical that organizations and governments continue to be vigilant in providing mental health support,” he continued.

Further, according to the findings, nearly 70 per cent of individuals believe that racism is a problem in Canada—20 per cent believe racism is a problem in their workplace.

When comparing results by race, 62 per cent of individuals who identified as Black agreed or strongly agreed that racism is a problem in their workplace, compared to only 14 per cent of individuals who identified as white.

Moreover, respondents who identified as Black showed a 1.8-point decrease in their Mental Health Index score between May and June, and a 0.9-point increase to -17.7 in July.

By comparison, those who identified as white showed consistent improvement without the same decline in June, with a 1.2-point increase between May and June and a 1.8-point increase in July.

However, as social movements pushing messages related to fighting racism have grown in strength and numbers, the mental health score of Black Canadians is showing improvement.

As well, 40 per cent of respondents feel systemic racism is likely to decrease in Canada as a result of heightened anti-Black racism awareness, while 33 per cent are unsure and 27 per cent feel that systemic racism is unlikely to decrease.

“Systemic racism is not a new issue in Canada nor elsewhere, yet many Canadians are just now opening their eyes to the issue for the first time,” Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation, for Morneau Shepell, said in the same release.

“The dialogue that has started recently is critical for social change as well as the wellbeing of individuals and organizations. The experience of racism is traumatic and the ability to safely speak about it and problem solve is critical and has been supported by many organizations. The benefit of that is starting and needs to continue,” she continued.

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