Paul Latimer column.

Latimer: Poll shows which Canadians have mental health risk

According to this year’s data, 41 percent of Canadians are considered “high risk” for mental illness

Are you stressed out to the point it’s having an impact on your daily life? Does it make it hard to cope? If you answered yes, you should know you’re not alone.

A new Ipsos report shows the number of Canadians at high risk for mental health issues is growing. According to this year’s data, 41 percent of Canadians are considered “high risk” for mental illness – up from 35 percent last year.

Millenials, women and those with low incomes are most vulnerable. When analyzed by region, western provinces and Ontario face more mental health hurdles than other places in the country.

Data for this report was based on levels of stress, depression and anxiety, and suicidal thoughts. – It may not come as a surprise to learn we’re a stressed out bunch.

Thirty six percent of Canadians admitted to periods of significant stress several times throughout the year. Another 24 percent said they experienced several instances during the year where they felt so stressed they couldn’t cope. Nineteen percent experienced periods of depression and seven percent considered suicide.

Among millenials, 63 percent were considered high risk – this makes sense as millenials are at a time in life filled with transitions, which are inherently stressful.

Women tend to have higher rates of depression and anxiety and can experience mental health issues associated with hormonal changes during life including post- partum and during menopause. Typically, men are less likely to come forward with mental health issues and are at higher risk of substance abuse.

Low income individuals and families face added life stressors and also often face barriers accessing mental health care. Some mental health care can be cost prohibitive to low income people if they don’t have access to extended health coverage. When struggling to make ends meet, health and mental health unfortunately sometimes take a backseat.

One encouraging finding in this year’s report is that 85 percent of Canadians said they consider mental health as important as physical health. This indicates a shift in thinking and a lifting of the veil of stigma surrounding mental illness.

Almost a third of respondents said they talked with family or friends about their mental health and another quarter reached out to their family doctor.

Life is stressful and there are times when many people may need some added support. It is good to see the message is perhaps finally getting out there that it’s OK to ask for help.

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