Canadian Mental Health Association

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About the CMHA

"Founded in 1918, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is the most established, most extensive community mental health organization in Canada. CMHA is a presence in more than 330 communities across every province and one territory. They provide advocacy, programs and resources that help to prevent mental health problems and illnesses. CMHA supports recovery and resilience, and enable all Canadians to flourish and thrive."

They provide services and supports to over 1.3 million Canadians. This is no small effort! It is through the combined efforts of more than 5,000 staff and 11,000 volunteers. They work from 1 national office, 11 divisions in all provinces and one territory, and 75 community-based branches/regions.

100 years at the forefront

CMHA's mental health fast facts

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/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 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.
  • 49% of those who feel they have suffered from depression or anxiety have never seen a doctor about it.
  • Stigma or discrimination attached to mental illnesses presents a serious barrier.

The economic cost

  • The 1998 economic cost of mental illnesses in Canada for the health care system was estimated to be $7.9 billion. Cost of care: $4.7 billion care. $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 untreated depression and distress.

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. This allows them to get back to their regular activities.
  • Mental illness is increasingly threatening the lives of our children. Canada’s youth suicide rate is 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. It affects 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.

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