OTTAWA — Canadians who care for chronically ill family members are experiencing extreme stress at a time when an aging population means more people will need such care, says a mental health study. The report by the Mental Health Commission of Canada also found that suicide rates are higher here than in some other G8 nations.
Among those 15 and over who provided care to an immediate family member with a long-term health condition, 16.5 per cent reported very high levels of stress, the report found. The commission’s findings cover 13 indicators that provide a glimpse of how Canadians are faring mentally. By April, the commission will provide details on close to 60 indicators involving children, youth, adults and seniors in a variety of settings.
The objective of the study was to “paint a fuller picture of mental health in Canada,” the commission said Thursday. It aimed to determine how many people experience positive mental health and how many struggle. The biggest trouble spots in the report indicate significant concerns, or that the indicator is moving in a undesirable direction.
The stress reported by those providing care to family members was one of those areas of biggest concern. Young Canadians who engage in self-harm is another worrisome area. In the last year, close to 20 per cent of university students said they had engaged in self-harm.
The study also found that 3,728 people, or 10.8 for every 100,000 in the population, killed themselves in 2011. It said suicide rates, while stable over time, are higher than in some other G8 countries.
The commission also found that more than 30 per cent of applications for Canada Pension Plan disability benefits are related to mental health issues. That figure has steadily increased since 2004 and is higher than disability benefit claims for other health problems. The commission says it hopes the indicators will be used to develop strategies to improve mental health.
The federal government created the Mental Health Commission of Canada in 2007. The organization, funded by Health Canada, operates at arm’s length from the government and has a 10-year mandate.
By: The Canadian Press, Published on Thu Jan 22 2015