Addressing the Wider Impacts of the COVID‑19 Pandemic on Mental Health and Substance Use in Canada
Mental health challenges affect all Canadians. Yet many Canadians lack access to mental health care services, with equity in access a key concern for specific groups due to gender, ethnicity, socio-economic status, geographic isolation, and immigration status issues. The COVID‑19 pandemic is exacerbating mental health challenges and widening service gaps, especially among those in marginalized groups and those with pre-existing mental health issues, making it a critical time to provide tools that will improve mental health at the population level. CAMH has been conducting a cross-sectional survey to monitor changes in mental health and substance use during the pandemic. The initiative builds on our experience to engage Canadians in the process of understanding and acting on mental health and substance use issues caused by the COVID‑19 pandemic. We will develop Learning Systems that use machine learning to develop an automated, continuously improving and sustainable infrastructure to track patterns in population mental health over time, and to inform improvements in access to services. Through close engagement with people with lived experiences, this initiative will allow Canadians to lend their voices to improving mental health interventions.