(July 2, 2021) Canadians’ physical health has suffered during the past 16 months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it’s the mental health of Canadians that has taken the hardest hit, a new study, Mind and body: Impact of the pandemic on physical and mental health, finds The study was conducted by the Environics Institute for Survey Research in conjunction with the Future Skills Centre and the Diversity Institute.
Compared to the change in perceptions of physical health, the decline in Canadians’ assessment of their mental health since the onset of the pandemic has been more substantial than the perception of their physical health. The decline is slightly greater in the case of women than men, a significant change for those between the ages of 30 and 64, and a dramatic drop among those age 65 and older, while there has been no change in the case of younger Canadians.
The study collected data from December 2020 and compared it with data from August 2019, assessing the differences in Canadians’ self-assessments of their general health. Participants in the 2019 study rated their own health as excellent, very good, good, fair, or poor.
In 2019, 39% reported that their physical health was ‘very good or excellent’- almost 1 in 4, however, said ‘fair or poor’. In 2020, the number of Canadians who reported being in ‘very good or excellent’ health decreased by 5%- a decline that was felt disproportionately by women over 65. And among Black Canadians, the number of people that claimed to be in ‘very good or excellent health’ fell by 14%. This is reflective of the well-documented wealth gap between Black and white Canadians.
“As is the case with physical health, the most striking contrast in the case of mental health is between the situations of younger men and older women,” said the report.
Among women over 65, there was a decline of 22% in those who rated their mental health ‘very good or excellent’. It is possible that increased isolation during the pandemic and/or increased pressure on caregiving older women are related to this decline.
A more dramatic decline was also noted in ‘all major racial identity groups and among those identifying as Indigenous’ with a particularly steep decline in the mental health of ‘those who identify primarily as Chinese’. Members of this group now report the lowest rates of ‘very good or excellent health,’ lower, in fact, than any other racial identity groups. This is consistent with the fact that anti-Asian racism has surged since the pandemic began.
How are Canadians are doing? September 28, 2020