Half of Canadians say the coronavirus pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health and more than four-in-10 think the impact will last long after the pandemic is over, finds a new KPMG in Canada survey conducted last week.

"More than a year of worrying about getting sick, stay-home restrictions, and job and economic challenges have taken a toll on Canadians' mental health," says Denis Trottier, Chief Mental Health Officer, KPMG in Canada. "With vaccinations ramping up, Canadians should be seeing the light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, but many are anxious that people are getting complacent and no longer exercising needed diligence to remain safe until the bulk of the population has been inoculated.

"We appear to be so close to the finish line in this ultra-marathon and now is not the time to stumble. More than ever, we need to be vigilant to protect our physical and mental health. This is the time to lean in."

Key Findings:

  • 89 per cent worry "Canadians are becoming impatient with the lockdowns and will let their guard down"
  • 87 per cent agreed that "we must remain vigilant. We are almost at the finish line of this COVID-19 marathon. We can't afford to stumble now."
  • 54 per cent say their mental health has suffered during the pandemic.
  • 50 per cent say the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health
  • 42 per cent believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health

Women, Younger Canadians Most Affected

Our poll research finds that the pandemic has affected the mental wellbeing of women more than men and the 18-24 age demographic more than older Canadians.

Nearly three in five (57 per cent) of women surveyed agreed strongly or somewhat that their mental health has suffered during the pandemic, compared to 50 per cent of men. Fifty-three per cent of women (47 per cent men) said the pandemic has had an ongoing impact on their mental health, and 46 per cent of women (39 per cent men) believe the pandemic will have a lasting impact on their mental health.

More than seven-in-10 (72 per cent) Canadians aged 18-24 said their mental health has suffered during the pandemic with six-in-10 saying it will leave a lasting impact, both a full 18 points higher than the national average.

The burden of child and elder care has fallen disproportionately on women and social isolation during COVID-19 has affected younger Canadians, says Mr. Trottier.

"These continue to be extremely stressful, trying times," he says. "Whether it's from social isolation, losing one's job, wrestling with your monthly bills, or balancing child or elder care, many Canadians are struggling. Our poll findings are one more notice to companies, the health care system, and governments to provide the necessary support to Canadians."

Mental Health Toolkits

"In my discussions with people who are struggling, I always ask the question: 'What's in your mental health toolkit and what regular positive habits have you maintained?'," says Mr. Trottier. "We all have to take charge of our own mental wellness. Just like first aid, we need to invest in our individual tool kit. Employers can play an important part in ensuring that employees know where to find not only the internal support resources but many of the free ones resulting from COVID."

In his recent blog, he describes a mental health toolkit as a collection of knowledge, positive habits, and resources you can invest in to support your mental health, now and in the future. A well-stocked toolkit will help you identify signs that you are struggling, and help you employ practical strategies and actions you can take when faced with a setback.

Mr. Trottier recommends:

  1. Build your circle of care: You don't have to be experiencing a mental illness to prepare for future mental health challenges—these ups and downs are a natural part of our lives. Take a moment to think about the people in your life who are in your circle of care. Think about who you can talk to openly about mental health and share your honest challenges and experiences with, as well as who you play that role for.
  2. Put mental health on the agenda: Do this with your teams at work, on your family Zoom catch ups, during virtual happy hours and game nights with friends, and at the dinner table. We may not realize that just asking someone 'How are you really feeling?' could well be the moment they needed to share their personal experience and let you in to their circle of care.
  3. Embrace new habits: With lines between work and life getting blurred, it's important to find ways to implement realistic, new, regular positive habits that support our wellness in the current new reality. There are plenty of great resources out there, such as WellCan, which offers free resources to help Canadians develop new coping strategies and build the resilience needed to deal with their mental health and wellbeing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Poll Findings:

​Agreed strongly or somewhat with the following statements:

National

​Male

​Female

Ages 18-24​

​Ages 25-34

​Ages 35-44

​Ages 45-54

​Ages 55-64

​Ages 65+

​My mental health has suffered during the pandemic

​54%

50%​

57%​

72%​

63%​

59%​

53%​

48%​

36%​

​The pandemic has had an ongoing impact on my mental health

​50%

47%​

53%​

66%​

62%​

61%​

47%​

43%​

31%​

​The pandemic will have a lasting impact on my mental health

​42%

39%​

46%​

60%​

49%​

52%​

40%​

33%​

28%​

​The pandemic has had a financial strain on my household

​43%

45%​

42%​

53%​

49%​

45%​

45%%​

39%​

33%​

​I worry Canadians are becoming impatient with the lockdowns and will let their guard down

89%

88%​

90%​

88%​

88%​

81%​

90%​

93%​

92%​

​We are almost at the finish line of this COVID-19 marathon. We can’t afford to stumble now. We must remain vigilant

​87%

​85%

​88%

​87%

​78%

​81%

​84%

​93%

​95%

 

KPMG surveyed 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ from March 17 to 20, 2021, leveraging Delvinia's AskingCanadians panel through its methodify online research platform.

About KPMG in Canada

KPMG LLP, a limited liability partnership, is a full-service Audit, Tax and Advisory firm owned and operated by Canadians. For over 150 years, our professionals have provided consulting, accounting, auditing, and tax services to Canadians, inspiring confidence, empowering change, and driving innovation. Guided by our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Courage, Together, For Better, KPMG employs nearly 8,000 people in over 40 locations across Canada, serving private- and public-sector clients. KPMG is consistently ranked one of Canada's top employers and one of the best places to work in the country.

The firm is established under the laws of Ontario and is a member of KPMG's global organization of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International, a private English company limited by guarantee. Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such. For more information, see home.kpmg/ca

For media inquiries:

Caroline Van Hasselt
Corporate Communications
KPMG in Canada
416 777-3288
cvanhasselt@kpmg.ca