Eight weeks into the COVID-19 pandemic, a new study shows half of Ontarians surveyed are feeling isolated, 49 per cent feel anxious and only eight per cent consider themselves happy.
As Mental Health Week (May 4 through May 10) kicks off across Canada, the Canadian Mental Health Association (C.M.H.A.) has partnered with Maru/Matchbox to provide insight into the well-being of residents from coast to coast. Specifically, the data revealed the desire for more meaningful social connection. In fact, more than two-thirds of Ontarians (70%) report they would like to experience more meaningful social interactions in their daily life.
In a release Monday (May 4), the Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (C.M.H.A. H.K.P.R.) noted 77 per cent of those asked “how are you” rely on “I’m fine, thanks” to express how they’re doing. This comes in spite of the fact that Ontarians are reportedly feeling more negative emotions than positive, 66 per cent compared to 34 per cent.
“People want more social connection, we see the evidence in this new data, but they’re hesitant to have the honest conversations that could fulfill that need,” says Mark Graham, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association, Haliburton, Kawartha, Pine Ridge (C.M.H.A. H.K.P.R.).
“It’s become normal to ask people how they’re doing without expecting or providing a truthful answer. We all need to get real about our feelings. Now more than ever, we need this connection.”
As part of Mental Health Week, C.M.H.A. H.K.P.R. is encouraging everyone to get real about how they’re feeling and embrace the opportunity to have meaningful social connections with others, even if they can’t do so face-to-face.
“We know that social connection helps us feel close and connected to others, regardless of physical proximity. We also know isolation and loneliness can have a negative impact on mental health,” says Jack Veitch, C.M.H.A. H.K.P.R.’s Manager of Community Engagement and Education.
According to C.M.H.A. H.K.P.R., citing a 2001 study from the Journal of Urban Health, strong social networks lead to better self-esteem, coping mechanisms and a sense of well-being, and reduce depression and distress by providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement.
The mental health organization is encouraging everyone to consider how they’re feeling before providing the standard, “I’m fine” and, in return, be prepared for honest responses from their peers.