What do I Need to Know About Mental Health in Canada?

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) says, “Everyone deserves to feel well.”

Mental health and mental illness are often used interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.

  • “Mental health” is a concept similar to “physical health”: it refers to a state of well-being.
  • Mental health includes our emotions, feelings of connection to others, our thoughts and feelings, and being able to manage life’s highs and lows.
  • Someone without a mental illness could have poor mental health, just as a person with a mental illness could have excellent mental health.
  • Problematic substance use is sometimes linked to poor mental health or mental illness; it can be a coping strategy for untreated trauma, pain, challenging thoughts or emotions, or other health symptoms

Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time either through their own experience, or that of a family member, friend or colleague. In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.

We all know COVID-19 disproportionately affected the well-being and mental health of older Canadians. In late 2020, CARP surveyed over 5,000 older adults on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health. 42% of respondents said their mental health was ‘worse’ or ‘much worse’ as compared to before the pandemic.

In our survey, respondents identified a number of COVID-related mental health challenges. In particular, top issues were: financial insecuritydifficulty in getting medical care, and isolation, particularly in care facilities. In fact, older Canadians identified challenges that are remain highly relevant, pandemic or not.

How is CARP Advocating?

Without the right supports, people with mental illness as well as their caregivers and families can experience great suffering.  We need a robust mental health care system with a wide range of programs and services, including preventative care, treatment and supports to recover and thrive.

Because public mental health services are underfunded and have long wait times, many people rely on their employer-based benefits or bear the personal cost of private services. Canadians spend an estimated $950 million a year on psychologists in private practice. About 30% of this is paid out-of-pocket while the remainder is paid through employment-based private health insurance plans.[14]

 We want seniors to have access to improved mental health and wellness resources in their communities.

  • We are asking all levels of government to commit to providing senior-specific mental health practitioners and clinics in local communities;
  • Improved funding for preventative and crisis mental health services, in all provinces and territories.
  • Offer virtual care where in-person counseling and appropriate care is not available.

Changes brought about by CARP’s mission create systems and an environment that ensures better mental health

  • Wait times
  • Equitable access to healthcare
  • Nothing about us without us: bringing the perspective of older Canadians to light
  • Emphasis on fitness
  • Emotion-centred model of care
  • Improving financial security
  • Isolation: engagement through chapter events

How Can I Get Involved?

There are many ways to get involved.  Find out more.