QUICK FACTS ON MENTAL HEALTH
What is mental health?
Mental health means striking a balance in all aspects of one’s life: social, physical, spiritual, economic and mental. At times, the balance may be tipped too much in one direction and one’s footing has to found again. Everyone’s personal balance is unique and the challenge is to stay mentally healthy by keeping the right balance. Mental health is as important as physical health. The World Health Organization (WHO) has always considered mental well-being as an integral part of the general definition of health. WHO defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”.
What is mental illness?
Mental illness is the term used to refer to a variety of mental disorders that can be diagnosed. Mental disorders are health conditions that are characterized by alternations in thinking, mood, or behavior (or some combination thereof) associated with distress and/or impaired functioning.
Who is affected?
- Mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.
- 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and income levels, and cultures.
- Approximately 8% of adults will experience major depression at some time in their lives.
- About 1% of Canadians will experience bipolar disorder (or “manic depression”).
How common is it?
- Schizophrenia affects 1% of the Canadian population.
- Anxiety disorders affect 5% of the household population, causing mild to severe impairment.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds and 16% among 25-44 year olds.
- Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in both men and women from adolescence to middle age.
- The mortality rate due to suicide among men is four times the rate among women.
What causes it?
- A complex interplay of genetic, biological, personality and environmental factors causes mental illnesses.
- Almost one half (49%) of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never gone to see a doctor about this problem.
- Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier, not only to diagnosis and treatment but also to acceptance in the community.
- Mental illnesses can be treated effectively.
What is the economic cost?
- The economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be at least $7.9 billion in 1998 – $4.7 billion in care, and $3.2 billion in disability and early death.
- An additional $6.3 billion was spent on uninsured mental health services and time off work for depression and distress that was not treated by the health care system.
- In 1999, 3.8% of all admissions in general hospitals (1.5 million hospital days) were due to anxiety disorders, bipolar disorders, schizophrenia, major depression, personality disorders, eating disorders and suicidal behavior. Sources: The Report on Mental Illness in Canada, October 2002. EBIC 1998 (Health Canada 2002), Stephens et al., 2001
How does it impact youth?
- It is estimated that 10-20% of Canadian youth are affected by a mental illness or disorder – the single most disabling group of disorders worldwide.
- Today, approximately 5% of male youth and 12% of female youth, age 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
- The total number of 12-19 year olds in Canada at risk for developing depression is a staggering 3.2 million.
- Once depression is recognized, help can make a difference for 80% of people who are affected, allowing them to get back to their regular activities.
- Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children; with Canada’s youth suicide rate the third highest in the industrialized world.
- Suicide is among the leading causes of death in 15-24 year old Canadians, second only to accidents; 4,000 people die prematurely each year by suicide.
- Schizophrenia is youth’s greatest disabler as it strikes most often in the 16 to 30 year age group, affecting an estimated one person in 100.
- Surpassed only by injuries, mental disorders in youth are ranked as the second highest hospital care expenditure in Canada.
- In Canada, only 1 out of 5 children who need mental health services receives them.
Source: Canadian Mental Health Association