Measuring positive mental health in Canada

What is positive mental health?

It is a state of well-being that allows us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face.

Positive mental health in adults can be measured through these five indicators

  • 65% of Canadian adults have high self-rated mental health
  • 82% of adults are happy almost every day or every day
  • 82% of adults are satisfied with life almost every day or every day
  • 70% of adults have high psychological well-being
  • Data on social well-being are coming soon (summer 2015)

Source: Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), Mental Health, 2012, based on Canadian self-reported data.

Many factors contribute to positive mental health, from the individual to society


Individual behaviours and experiences are associated with positive mental health.

  • 54% of Canadian adults are physically active (CCHS, 2013)
  • 85% of adults drink according to the low risk alcohol drinking guidelines (Canadian Alcohol and Drug Use Monitoring Survey (CADUMS), 2012)


Healthy family relationships provide an important foundation for positive mental health.

  • 40% of adults have a family member with drug, alcohol, emotional, or mental health problems (CCHS Mental Health, 2012)
  • 70% of adults live with a spouse or partner (CCHS Mental Health, 2012)


Positive mental health is supported by strong ties to the community.

  • 64% of adults are a member of at least one community organization (General Social Survey (GSS) Social Networks, 2008)
  • 87% of adults believe their neighbourhood is a place where neighbours help each other (GSS Victimization, 2009)


Factors such as discrimination and stigma are related to lower positive mental health.

This infographic is the first in a series of knowledge products responding to the need for better data on positive mental health, as identified in Canada's first national mental health strategy, "Changing Directions, Changing Lives" developed by the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

The Public Health Agency of Canada is working with the Mental Health Commission of Canada and other key experts to identify, organize, and present data on positive mental health outcomes, and protective and risk factors. This infographic provides some examples of these data.

These protective and risk factors are presented through the Positive Mental Health Surveillance Indicator Framework, which includes 25 indicators at the individual, family, community, and societal levels.


  • Resiliency
  • Coping
  • Nurturing childhood experiences
  • Control and self-efficacy
  • Violence
  • Health status
  • Physical activity
  • Problematic substance use (drugs or alcohol)
  • Spirituality


  • Family relationship quality and connectedness
  • Parenting style
  • Family physical and mental health status
  • Substance use by family members
  • Household composition
  • Household income and lack of material resources


  • Community involvement
  • Social networks
  • Social support
  • School environment
  • Workplace environment
  • Neighbourhood social environment
  • Neighbourhood built environment


  • Inequality
  • Discrimination
  • Political participation

For more information

The Positive Mental Health Surveillance Indicator Framework (PMHSIF) provides information on positive mental health outcomes and its associated risk and protective factors.

Page details

Date modified: