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Fast Facts about Mental Illness

Who is affected?

  • Similar as in most other western European and North American societies mental illness indirectly affects all s at some time through a family member, friend or colleague.

  • 20% of Canadians will personally experience a mental illness in their lifetime.

  • Mental illness affects people of all ages, educational and 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 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, 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 15-24 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.


How common is it?

  • 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 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



Anxiety Disorders

We all feel nervous or worried at times. This anxiety can be a helpful feeling when it motivates us or warns us of danger. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, causes unexpected or unhelpful anxiety that seriously impacts our lives, including how we think, feel, and act.



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