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Frequently Asked Questions
Fast Facts about Mental Illness
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”. CMHA-YT believes that everyone must have good mental health, including people living with mental illness on a daily basis.
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 behaviour (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.
- In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness.
- Mental illness affects people of all ages, education, 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?
- By age 40, about 50% of the population will have or have had a mental illness.
- 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 ages 15 to 24 and 16% among ages 25 to 44.
- 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, ages 12 to 19, have experienced a major depressive episode.
- The total number of 12 to 19-year old Canadians 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 to 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.
Reference: Mental Health Commission of Canada (2013). Making the case for investing in mental health in Canada.
What is the role of CMHA National?
CMHA National works to assist the members of the Association, through the 87 CMHA Divisions, Regions and Branches in over 300 communities across Canada, promoting the mental health of all people. CMHA National reaches out to the federal government at political and bureaucratic levels to drive policy and advocate on issues relating to mental health. They also develop national educational materials for the organization as a whole, work in partnership with other national organizations on common issues of concern, provide leadership on national/pan-Canadian issues and conduct research and programs to support policy development.
What is the role of the CMHA-YT?
The CMHA-YT provides multi-faceted services directly to clients, their families and workplace environments. We endeavour to structure our programs to meet the needs of our northern communities. We provide counselling, public education materials, develop policy, conduct research, studies and demonstration projects and advocate at the territorial level.
How is CMHA-YT funded?
CMHA-YT is a charity and we rely on the financial support of corporations, foundations, individuals and other groups who believe in our work. CMHA-YT receives government support for core funding, specific programs and services.