Mental Health Statistics

Mental health has a significant human and economic impact in Ontario and across the country. According to the Canadian Mental Health Association, every year mental illness affects 20 percent of Canadians and costs our economy $51 million.

But stigma around mental illness is deeply rooted, preventing a majority of those with symptoms from seeking help. One way to fight that stigma is to have the right facts.

About mental health

  • Mental illness affects 1 in 5 Canadians every year (20 percent). (viii)
  • There are more than 300 different types of mental health disorders. The most common types include: Anxiety Disorders, Mood Disorders, Schizophrenia, Personality Disorders, Eating Disorders and suicidal behaviour.
  • After “regular heavy drinking”, the three most prevalent mental health issues in Canada are: Personality Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Major Depression. (i)
  • Just 32 percent of people with feelings and symptoms consistent with one of the more common mental illnesses spoke to a health care professional about it. (ii)
  • More than four percent of Canadians reported feelings or  symptoms associated with major depression. As a comparison, five percent reported the same for heart disease. (i)

Who can develop a mental illness?

  • Women are more likely than men to be diagnosed with a mental illness. (iii)
  • Young adults (18 to 25) are more likely to be diagnosed with a mental illness than someone over the age of 50. (iii)
  • Mood disorders and anxiety disorders are more common for women. (ii)
  • Canadians in the lowest income group were 3-4 times more likely than those in the highest income group to report fair to poor mental health. (iv)
    • A report from the Canadian Mental Health Association of Ontario looks at the complex relationship between poverty and mental illness; people with mental health issues often live in chronic poverty because their illness affects their ability to get a job or education. Living in chronic poverty also increases the risk of developing mental illness.
  • Some illnesses are more commonly diagnosed in infants, children and teens. These include Conduct Disorder, Aspergers Syndrome, Tourette Syndrome, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.

The cost of mental health

  • The World Economic Forum estimates the global cost of mental illness in 2010 at nearly $2.5 trillion. This cost is expected to grow to more than $6 trillion by 2030. In comparison, the entire global health spending in 2009 (not just mental health) was $5.1 trillion. (vi)
  • Globally, the vast majority of countries allocate less than 2% of their health budgets to mental health. (vii)
  • The Canadian Mental Health Association estimates that mental illness costs our economy $51 million each year. (iv)


  • Of the 10 leading causes of disability worldwide, five are mental disorders: Major Depression, Schizophrenia, Bipolar Disorder, Substance Abuse Disorder and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. (viii)
  • Across Canada, an increasing number of people have rated their mental health as “fair or poor” over the past nine years, with the largest jump in Manitoba. (v)
  • In Canada, suicide is the leading cause of death among young people aged 15-24 (24 percent). (viii)
  • Among Ontario youth, approximately 30% typically report higher levels of psychological distress. However, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health found that the number of youth getting help had doubled over 10 years.

Changing the face of mental illness in Canada

The Mental Health Commission of Canada recently launched Changing Directions, Changing Lives, a report the organization calls a blueprint for change. Earlier this year, Queen’s University in Kingston, ON announced a research position focused on the fight against stigma. It may be slow, but positive change is coming.

To learn more about mental health statistics and issues, or if you are concerned about yourself or someone you care about, please contact us or send us a message on Twitter.


i. Public Health Agency of Canada. 2009. Mental Illness Facts and Figures. Last updated April 23, 2009. (accessed July 12, 2012).

ii. Statistics Canada. 2003. Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental health and well-being. Released September 3, 2003. (accessed July 12, 2012).

iii. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 2012. 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Released January 19, 2012. (accessed July 12, 2012).

iv. Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Mental Health and Addiction Statistics. (accessed July 12, 2012).

v. Statistics Canada. 2012. Health Trends.
Statistics Canada Catalogue No. 82-213-XWE. Ottawa. Released June 19, 2012. (accessed July 12, 2012).

vi. National Institute of Mental Health. 2011. The Global Cost of Mental Illness. Released September 28, 2011. (accessed July 12, 2012).

vii. World Federation for Mental Health. 2011. The Great Push: Investing in Mental Health. (accessed July 12, 2012).

viii. Canadian Alliance of Mental Illness and Mental Health. Quick Facts on Mental Illness. (accessed July 12, 2012).