New data shows majority of Ontarians believe mental health crisis will follow COVID-19 impact

(Toronto, May 11, 2020) – Seven out of 10 Ontarians (69 per cent) believe the province is headed for a “serious mental health crisis” as it emerges from this pandemic and nearly eight of out 10 (77 per cent) say more mental health supports will be necessary to help society, according to new poll results released today.


This data comes from the first of three polls Pollara Strategic Insights is conducting on behalf of Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario Division.


CMHA Ontario is looking to evaluate how Ontarians’ perceptions of their mental health are changing as they come out from underneath the pandemic. Two more surveys will follow in the coming months as restrictions loosen around COVID-19 and the economy continues to re-open.


Pollara’s research shows that 79 per cent of people in the province worry about what the future will look like after the outbreak is over, 87 per cent are worried about the impact on the older generation, and 71 per cent are worried about the younger generation.


Nearly everyone (90 per cent) is concerned about COVID-19’s impact on the economy and 69 per cent of Ontarians are concerned about the impact the outbreak has on their personal finances.


One finding of note is that while 67 per cent of Ontarians are worrying about the mental health impact on family and friends, fewer Ontarians – 53 per cent – are concerned about their own mental health.


“Stigma is likely playing a role in this self-reporting in that it’s much easier for Ontarians to admit concern for their physical health or for others than their own mental health,” said Camille Quenneville, CEO of CMHA Ontario.


“This may explain why, in spite of prevalent negative feelings, more people in Ontario express concern with their physical health [39 per cent] than those who express concern with their mental health [23 per cent],” she said.


“We look forward to the next phases of this research to gain a broader understanding of how the pandemic has affected our province and how we can best move forward to support Ontarians as they address mental health and addictions issues,” Quenneville said.


Pollara’s online research of 1,001 Ontario residents over 18 was conducted from April 16-23. It carries a margin of error of ± 3.1 per cent, 19 times out of 20.


Additional findings:



  • Three-fifths (58 per cent) believe the mental heath of themselves, those in their household (55 per cent) and friends and family outside their household (59 per cent) are negatively affected by the pandemic.


  • People are more likely to feel their mental health (36 per cent) has worsened than their physical health (26 per cent) during the coronavirus outbreak.


  • A quarter (23 per cent) of Ontarians are consuming more substances such as alcohol, tobacco or cannabis. Among those who are consuming these substances, 29 per cent have changed the time of day when they consume.


  • The things we recommend to stay mentally healthy are taking a hit. For example, 36 per cent of Ontarians say their diet has gotten worse, while 48 per cent say exercise habits have worsened.


  • Despite trying to make a daily routine, 59 per cent are finding it hard to be productive while in self-isolation. This is true of those who are currently employed and those not working.


  • Eight per cent have had to deal with themselves or friends and family members testing positive, or losing a friend or friend or family member to the virus.


  • 69 per cent of Ontarians are concerned about catching the virus, while 70 per cent are concerned about losing family or friends to COVID-19.


  • 40 per cent of respondents or an immediate family member have lost work hours or pay while nearly a third (28 per cent) have been laid off.


  • 65 per cent are concerned about the impact on students’ education.


About Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), Ontario is a not-for-profit, charitable organization. We work to improve the lives of all Ontarians through leadership, collaboration and continual pursuit of excellence in community-based mental health and addictions services. Our vision is a society that embraces and invests in the mental health of all people. We are a trusted advisor to government, contributing to health systems development through policy formulation and recommendations that promote positive mental health. Our 28 local CMHA branches, together with community-based mental health and addictions service providers across the province, serve approximately 500,000 Ontarians each year.




For more information, contact your local CMHA branch or:


Justin Dickie

Communications Officer

Canadian Mental Health Association, Ontario

T: 416-977-5580, ext. 4175


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