Housing, income, employment insecurity affecting Canadians’ mental wellbeing

Credit Counselling Canada survey probes social determinants of mental health

TORONTO, Oct. 13, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- A new national survey by Credit Counselling Canada outlines the financial health and mental health challenges the country is facing – set off by current experiences with housing, income, employment and education and driven by 18 months of lockdowns and restrictions, anxiety and stress.

The Social Determinants of Mental Health, an Angus Reid survey of 1,510 Canadians, was conducted on behalf of Credit Counselling Canada, the foremost national association and accrediting body of non-profit credit counselling service agencies that act in the public interest.

In the study, four-in-10 Canadians disclosed that their mental health has worsened as a direct result of their financial situation since the start of the pandemic. Additionally, the study reveals that 38 per cent of Canadian parents are concerned about the impact the family's financial situation has on their child’s mental health, while 73 per cent have been taking action to shield their children from any financial or mental stresses due to the pandemic.

“Mental, physical and financial health are all interconnected,” said Stacy Yanchuk Oleksy, interim CEO of Credit Counselling Canada. “It is beyond clear that we are living in the financial effects of the pandemic, which is a threat to the overall wellbeing of Canadians.”

Standout findings regarding housing, income, jobs and mental health

  • Three-in-10 respondents (32%) said their mental health has been negatively impacted by job insecurity (reduced hours/pay, layoffs, lack of new opportunities).
  • 44 per cent feel their mental health has been negatively impacted by trying to keep up with household expenses (transportation, food, utility bills, phone bills, insurance, clothing).
  • One third of Canadians indicated their mental health has been negatively impacted by trying to keep up with consumer debt payments (credit card(s), auto loan(s) and medical payments)
  • One quarter said that their mental health has been negatively impacted by housing insecurity (ability to secure housing or pay rent/mortgage)
  • Finally, 36 per cent of young adults (aged 18-34) indicated their mental health has been negatively impacted by financial pressure with post-secondary education (paying tuition, books, lodging, student loan(s), etc.)

From the family perspective, one-in-five respondents (18%) say their child or children have helped support the family finances through a job, their savings or paying rent. Meanwhile, 46 per cent of parents are concerned that their children's lack of employment options is affecting their mental health. Yet, on the positive side of the ledger, 46 per cent of parents have used the lockdown and economic recovery as a teachable moment – using them to teach their children about managing finances, including debt, employment and disposable income.

“Rising costs of living, housing and consumer debt can create a perfect storm that impedes a person’s financial and mental wellbeing,” said Yanchuk Oleksy. “While people are feeling overwhelmed due to their financial situation, there are tools available to lead them back into a solid position to manage life’s hurdles. Non-profit credit counsellors serve as an imperative first step towards one’s financial and mental wellbeing.”

In any given week, at least 500,000 employed Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems. Overall, the economic burden of mental illness in Canada is estimated at $51 billion per year. This includes health care costs, lost productivity, and reductions in health-related quality of life. Meanwhile, Canadians in the lowest income group are three-to-four times more likely than those in the highest income group to report poor to fair mental health.1

“For many Canadians, mental health has been tied to financial concerns - and that was before the pandemic. COVID-19 has made a bad situation worse, with so much financial uncertainty for so many. The pandemic response must continue to include support for mental health care and research,” says CAMH psychiatrist Dr. David Gratzer.

About the Social Determinants of Mental Health Survey 
From August 4 to August 6, 2021, an online survey was conducted among a representative sample of 1,510 Canadians who are members of the Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes, the sample plan would carry a margin of error of +/- 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding. 

About Credit Counselling Canada
Credit Counselling Canada is the national association of non-profit credit counselling agencies that work provincially, regionally, and locally throughout Canada. The association’s agencies exist to help individuals and families sort out their personal finances on a non-profit basis and have helped more than 12 million Canadians deal with debt in the past decade. As vocal advocates for consumer financial literacy, Credit Counselling Canada ensures clients receive highly-qualified support at little or no cost. Visit www.creditcounsellingcanada.ca for more information and follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

Contact for more information:
Morgan Lewis
Email: morgan.lewis24@gmail.com

1 Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics; CAMH