How are you holding up? No, really, how are you feeling? Specifically, in terms of your mental health?
For Canadian Men’s Health Week, it’s a question we should be asking each other more. In a recent survey by the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), 80 per cent of male respondents stated that their mental health is equally important as their physical health. Yet recent data released by Statistics Canada shows that the percentage of Canadian men reporting “Excellent” or “Very Good” mental health has dropped — from 71 per cent in 2018 to 60 per cent in 2020.
The decline is particularly noticeable among younger Canadians. Less than half of respondents under age 45 self-reported their mental health status as “Excellent” or “Very Good.” What’s more, the MHCC found that 40 per cent of male respondents report feeling stress “regularly” or “all the time” over the past month due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to Statistics Canada, women are more likely to report requiring counselling and group support services, but men are more likely to report requiring addiction services. Compared to women, their suicide rates are approximately three times higher.
In some cases, virtual tools can bridge the divide. One in four men say they can currently access mental health support through web sites or apps (compared to one in five women), and at least half would like to. Access to virtual tools is particularly important during this time of pandemic, when in-person support may not be available and COVID-19-related stresses present new challenges for mental health. Among men able to access mental health support through websites, nearly half reported that their mental health improved with use of the virtual tool, and 45 per cent avoided an in-person or emergency department visit.
Recently, a coalition of Canadian health organizations launched Wellness Together, a free online platform providing Canadians with mental health resources, counselling and peer support. You can browse through this round-up for more e-mental health tools and services. Working together, we can ensure access to digital tools to support Canadians’ health needs, mental and physical alike.
Stay well, guys.
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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.
Simon Hagens leads performance analytics at Canada Health Infoway, informing Infoway and our partners with the evidence to deliver and optimize digital health for the benefit of Canadians and our health system.