How e-Mental Health Tools Can Support Canadians — through COVID-19 and Beyond

By Nancy Gupta

COVID-19 has further exacerbated mental health concerns in Canada. In a recent study conducted by Canada Health Infoway (Infoway), fewer people reported excellent (18 per cent) or very good (31 per cent ) mental health status in 2020 compared to 2019 (24 per cent and 33 per cent, respectively). Similar findings were illustrated by the Canadian Perspective Survey Series conducted by Statistics Canada.

Woman typing on laptop

Infoway’s study also showed that mental health concerns impacted certain demographic groups disproportionately. Although men and women both reported worse mental health status in 2020 than in 2019, women were less likely to report excellent or very good mental health (45 per cent) compared to men (55 per cent)

Adults in all age groups were less likely to report excellent or very good mental health than the previous year. And the youngest age groups were least likely to report excellent or very good mental health; they were also more likely to report poor mental health.

The pandemic has had negative implications for suicidality. A series of surveys conducted by the University of British Columbia and Canadian Mental Health Association reported increased suicidal thoughts among Canadians. In September 2020, one in 10 Canadians experienced thoughts of suicide because of the pandemic, up from one in 20 in May 2020.

However, Canadians are starting to access e-mental health supports in greater numbers. In our recent study, 16 per cent Canadians reported that they had used e-mental health tools in the past year, up from 12 per cent in 2019. 52 per cent reported that they would like to access e-mental health tools. Reflecting patterns in mental health status seen across different demographic groups, younger Canadians (< 34 years) and women are more likely to have accessed e-mental health tools, and to express interest in accessing them in future.

Our study also found that among those who had used e-mental health services, 83 per cent reported that they were satisfied with their care, and 81 per cent reported accessing care more quickly.

A variety of resources are available. Last spring, the federal government launched Wellness Together Canada: a free portal to help connect Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals. Kids Help Phone also expanded its program to meet growing mental health needs during pandemic.  You can browse this round-up for more e-mental health tools and resources.

As the pandemic continues, it’s important to safeguard our mental health along with our physical health. e-Mental health tools can continue to help mitigate barriers to access, and ensure Canadians get the support they need.

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About the author
Nancy Gupta

Nancy Gupta

Nancy Gupta is a Performance Analyst with Canada Health Infoway where she supports data driven decision making and evaluates the impact of digital health investments. She holds a Master’s in Public Health-Specialization in Epidemiology from Lakehead University.