Half of Canadians say the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health and more than four-in-10 think the impact will last long after the pandemic is over, finds a new KPMG survey conducted last week.
“With vaccinations ramping up, Canadians should be seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, but many are anxious that people are getting complacent and no longer exercising needed diligence to remain safe until the bulk of the population has been inoculated,” said Denis Trottier, chief mental health officer, KPMG in Canada.
The survey looked at 1,000 Canadians aged 18-plus from March 17 to 20, 2021, leveraging Delvinia’s AskingCanadians panel through its methodify online research platform.
Among the key findings: 54 per cent say their mental health has suffered during the pandemic; 50 per cent say the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health; and 42 per cent believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.
A high majority of 89 per cent worry that Canadians are becoming impatient with the lockdowns and will let their guard down, while 87 per cent agreed about remaining vigilant.
Women and Gen Z most affected
The tally of responses also illuminates how the pandemic is affecting the mental wellbeing of women more than men and the 18-24 age demographic more than older Canadians.
Nearly three in five (57 per cent) of women surveyed agreed strongly or somewhat that their mental health has suffered during the pandemic, compared to 50 per cent of men. Fifty-three per cent of women (47 per cent men) said the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health, and 46 per cent of women (39 per cent men) believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.
More than seven-in-10 (72 per cent) Canadians aged 18-24 said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic with six-in-10 saying it will leave a lasting impact, both a full 18 points higher than the national average.
Trottier says the findings are just one more alert to companies, the health care system, and governments to provide necessary support.
Some “getting through” strategies
As stated in the report, Trottier recommends building a circle of care, putting mental health on the schedule and embracing new habits.
Build your circle of care
You don’t have to be experiencing a mental illness to prepare for future mental health challenges—these ups and downs are a natural part of our lives. Take a moment to think about the people in your life who are in your circle of care. Think about who you can talk to openly about mental health and share your honest challenges and experiences with, as well as who you play that role for.
Put mental health on the agenda
Do this with your teams at work, on your family Zoom catch ups, during virtual happy hours and game nights with friends, and at the dinner table. We may not realize that just asking someone ‘How are you really feeling?’ could well be the moment they needed to share their personal experience and let you in to their circle of care.
Embrace new habits
With lines between work and life getting blurred, it’s important to find ways to implement realistic, new, regular positive habits that support our wellness in the current new reality. There are plenty of great resources out there, such as WellCan, which offers free resources to help Canadians develop new coping strategies and build the resilience needed to deal with their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.