The challenges presented by the pandemic have caused a decline in mental health for the general population starting in March 2020. A recent study shows that younger people, ages 18-24, were the most affected, reporting feelings of anxiety, loneliness, and depression.
The study consisted of four surveys of over 3,000 Canadian adults throughout the first five months of the pandemic, to assess their mental health. Researchers were able to gather data on their anxiety, depression, and interest in daily activities to get a better understanding of who is struggling the most. To assess the subjects, the team of researchers used the interRAI self-reported mood scale (a clinically validated measure), in an online survey of a representative sample of the general population.
In the first survey in April 2020, the data found that 44 per cent of the participants, in the age bracket 18-24, were dealing with increased feelings of depression, compared to 20 percent of those between the ages 55-65, and 12 percent of people aged 65 plus.
By the fourth survey, the results showed another increase in feelings of depression for the group of 18-24 year olds by 43 per cent. While the 55-64 year olds dropped by 17 per cent, and the 65 and over group dropped by 8 per cent. Factors found to be associated with these high rates of depression were being younger, loneliness, high health needs, financial concerns, and living outside of Quebec.
The numbers show that feelings of depression were at a rate of two to three times higher than before the pandemic, even in the summer months when there were less restrictions.
Despite these findings, the long term impacts of the negative mental health outcomes as a result of the pandemic are still unknown.