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Mental Health of Canadians Overview Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 16th, 2021


In this paper, the discussion is about mental health concerning Canadians. The reason why this topic was chosen for discussion because it is a fact that every Canadian is affected by mental health either directly or indirectly. This is because either one is suffering from mental illness or a family member or colleague does. It starts mostly when one is in adolescence or early adulthood (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2002). It costs a lot to manage and deal with it especially because 86% of the mental illnesses admissions occur in general hospitals.

Definition of mental illnesses

Mental illnesses can be described as the alterations that occur in an individual’s behavior, thinking, and mood. The extent of the effect is affected by the socio-economic environment, the individual, the family, and the type of illness that one is suffering from. There are several mental illnesses and this includes eating, mood, bipolar, anxiety and personality disorders, depression, and also schizophrenia. Although these disorders are said to affect all age groups and gender indiscriminately, it has been found that the the15-24, 25-44 year age groups are affected more than those who are more than 45 years old. Women also account for more hospitalizations than men.

Some illnesses affect the prevalence of mental illnesses. This may be due to the manifestation of the disease or the treatment used for that disease. Some diseases like cancer are a cause of chronic pain and this affects the mental stability of the sufferer. Others like Parkinson’s disease use some drugs in the treatment that may cause mental instability. Obesity is another disorder that can cause suffering from it to become extremely depressed when they are not able to be comfortable with their physical appearance. Apart from this, some diseases may lead to one developing an addiction to some drugs especially those that help in the management of pain.

Mental disorders can be caused by other factors apart from other physical illnesses. These causes may be genetic, personal, and also the environment the person is in. At least 20% of Canadians will at one point suffer from a mental illness. If in an individuals’ family there has been a case of mental illness, there is the possibility of the person suffering from an illness (http://www.sciencedaily.com). The personality of an individual determines how well he or she can cope with everyday stress. Some succumb to incidences that others have handled quite well. This may even be as a result of taking care of a mentally ill family member; this is known as caregiver burnout (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2002).

The environment can affect a person’s mental health. There is a high prevalence of mental illness among prisoners especially due to the violence they face. Those who are very poor and homeless are also prone to suffering from mental illness. Trying to cope with the disadvantage of not having enough to get by while those around them seem to be living in luxury may lead to depression. Furthermore, when taking care of a mentally ill person, the family ends up spending so much such that they are left in economic crisis hence affecting the family members well being. The stigma associated with mental illness aggravates the situation for both the mentally ill and their family (Corrigan P. W., Edwards A.B., Green A., Diwan S. L & Penn D.L, 2001).

Impact of mental illnesses

The impact that the illnesses have on the Canadian economy is experienced in different sectors of the economy. In the labor force, there is a decrease in the number of laborers. This is because of two different factors. First, the mentally ill employee is constantly absent from work when searching for treatment or when overcome by symptoms. The second factor deals with those who take care of the ill person. If a family member is mentally ill, not only does the productivity of that person decrease but also that of the other family members. This is because their working hours are affected by the time required to take care of the ill person. Also at the workplace, they are unable to work at optimum levels because they are not mentally settled.

The financial crisis caused by spending on the treatment reduces the ability of the family to spend on consumption. It also depletes their savings and hence affects the level of investment. The loss of employment due to the ravages of the disease becomes a burden to the state and to those who are supporting the person. The impact on government revenue is also seen in the health sector. As mentioned earlier, 86% of mental illnesses admission cases take place in general hospitals. This then increases the amount spent on medical costs by the government. These illnesses may take a long time before treatment makes an impact and this affects the amount spent on an individual admitted to the hospital (Stephens T. & Joubert N, 2001).

Before carrying out this project, there was the assumption that the number of people suffering from mental illness was less than that which is statistically proven. Apart from this, there was also the assumption that the majority were found in the 65 years and over age group while this was found not to be true. The assumption that it affects the economy negatively was seen to be true. Some of the disorders that I had assumed were simply physical disorders turned out to be forms of mental illnesses. An example of this is obesity which I had always assumed was a physical disorder and not a psychological illness. Also, the assumption that most mentally ill people are poor was proved not to be entirely true. While a large percentage of mentally ill people are either directly or indirectly affected by poverty, the affluent also suffer from these illnesses.

Social problems caused by mental illnesses

The fact that most of the causes of mental illnesses are social and psychological means that some can be prevented. In the prevention, social cohesion at the individual level can be encouraged. This leads to the ability of a person to handle problems as they come. This can be improved by the family first whereby children get good parenting hence having a strong emotional foundation. A strong friendship is also very important because one is then able to discuss problems and this helps in coping with them. The availability of sustainable employment reduces poverty and consequently its effect on mental health. With meaningful employment, one can be able to get before the disease gets too far.

When it comes to the impact the medication for other illnesses has on mental health, one can give reports to the doctors on the effects the medication has on them and hence have it changed to one with fewer side effects. The people can be encouraged to involve themselves in various physical exercises that help them to manage their weight. This reduces cases of heart diseases and obesity which have been associated with cases of depression. If one is already ill, the rest of society should be taught how to deal with the illness and not shun the individual as this makes the situation worse. There should be a forum that allows people to develop personally and also air out their views so that the stigma associated with the illness may be reduced (Turner F.J, 2005).

Another social problem that causes mental illness is the abuse of people. This may be sexual or physical and causes a myriad of problems on those to who it occurs. A way should be developed on how to prevent such occurrences and when they have already occurred a way to deal with the fact. Stiffer punishments should be introduced for perpetrators of abuse but also from early childhood, there should be “teaching of cognitive-behavioral strategies can prevent or reduce the impact of anxiety disorders” (Public Health Agency of Canada, 2002). If this happens it reduces the incidences of abuse from already disturbed individuals and also helps those who are abused cope with what has happened to them.

In the medical field, it should be made mandatory for all physicians to learn about mental illness. This helps in the early and correct diagnosis of the illness. Instead of one being treated for physical illnesses when they are suffering from mental illnesses, the doctor can be able to refer them to a specialist if he or she recognizes the symptoms of a mental illness. This helps in getting the right treatment for the disease. When detected early before it progresses very far, there is a chance of reversing the effects of the illness. The treatment usually includes medication, psychotherapy, occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and also social work. Using the right combination for the specific illness is important for the personal well-being of the sufferer.

The families and individuals should receive education on symptoms and signs of the illnesses so that they detect their onset early enough for intervention to occur. Networks of suffering individuals can be formal to help them look out for each other. The hospitals should also have a crisis response department for those suffering from mental illness. These are to be used for mental emergency cases. Apart from this, there should be community outreach programs that check on the mentally ill individuals even in their homes ensuring that they follow up on their treatment. In their workplaces where poor people are mostly found there should be support for those who suffer or have someone close to them suffering from mental illness (Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health, 2000).


In conclusion, I have found out a lot about mental illness. Some of the misconceptions I had about the causes of illness have been corrected with facts. There is also the realization that the problem is more than initially thought. It has also alerted me to the stigma that the sufferers and also their family members face at the hands of society and this will change the way I treat them from now on. The discovery of the numerous associations that have been put up to deal with mental illness has provided a place where I can get information in case I need to do further research on the topic.


  1. Canadian Alliance on Mental Illness and Mental Health 2000. A Call for Action: Building Consensus for a National Plan on Mental Illness and Mental Health.
  2. Corrigan P. W, Edwards A.B, Green A, Diwan S. L & Penn D.L 2001. Prejudice, Social Distance, and Familiarity with Mental Illness Oxford University Press and the Maryland Psychiatric Research Centre Schizophrenia Bulletin Vol. 27 No. 2
  3. Public Health Agency of Canada 2002. A Report on Mental Illness in Canada. Ottawa Ontario, Public Health Agency of Canada
  4. Stephens T. & Joubert N. 2001. The Economic Burden of Mental Health Problems in Canada Chronic Diseases in Canada.
  5. Turner F.J 2005. Encyclopedia of Canadian Social Work Wilfred Laurier University Press Canada.
  6. University of Edinburgh 2007, . Web.
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