Mental Health Statistics

#GetLoud for Mental Health Week | Dr. Ali Ghahary

Below you will find some of the latest statistics surrounding mental health and mental illness in Canada. If you or someone you know is struggling, please reach out to a trusted individual such as a friend, family member, or physician.

Who Does Mental Illness Affect?

Is any given year, one in five Canadians will experience a mental health disorder. The term “Mental illness” is used to describe a wide range of mental health disorders, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, just to name a few. There are over 200 different classifications of mental illness, and as many as 70% of all mental illnesses diagnosed begin during childhood or adolescence. However, mental illness does not discriminate and it can affect individuals of all genders, nationalities, education and income levels, and ages – though it is most prevalent between the ages of 15 and 25. By the age of 40, one in every two Canadians have – or will have had – a mental illness, or know someone who is struggling. While that might not seem like a large number, that actually accounts for as much as 50% of the Canadian population.

What Are the Common Mental Disorders?

As mentioned in this and in previous articles by Dr. Ali Ghahary, there are hundreds of types of mental illnesses that one can be diagnosed with. However some types of mental illness are more common and prevalent than others. For example, depression and anxiety. Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia are also two common types of mental illness.

Risk Factors Associated With Mental Illness

Your risk of developing a mental illness increases exponentially (as much as 40%) if you have a family member who has a mental illness or has struggled with a mental illness in the past. Your risk also increases if you abuse drugs, be it prescription or illicit; as well as if you abuse alcohol. On the contrary, having a mental illness can also lead to drug and alcohol abuse. At least 20% of individuals with a mental health disorder will also have a co-occurring substance abuse problem. It’s also not uncommon to develop a mental illness if you struggle from any underlying health conditions, such as diabetes, chronic pain, or cancer.

The Stigma Surrounding Mental Illness

Unfortunately, due to the stigma that still surrounds mental illness, only 40% of Canadians are willing to discuss a diagnosed mental illness with a friend or family member compared to the 60% of Canadians willing discuss other medical conditions. Even more shocking, 42% of Canadians say they were unsure if they would be willing to socialize with someone who has a mental illness, while 55% of Canadians say they would not want to enter into a spousal relationship with someone who had a mental illness.

Because of that stigma, many mental health organizations work hard to raise awareness about mental illness with the hope that they can provide individuals the courage to come forward to talk about their mental health without any shame attached to it, as well as provide the general public with a better understanding of what mental illness is and how they can help others cope.

More statistics on mental illness can be found by visiting the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health or Canadian Mental Health Association. For those suffering from mental illness, Dr. Ali Ghahary shares a list of local community resources for British Columbians and their families which can be found by clicking here.