What did Canadians do for their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic?

During the pandemic in early 2021, many Canadian adults reported taking active care of their mental health by engaging in a range of activities that are accessible to most on a daily basis.

Different sociodemographic groups favoured some activities over others

Table 1: Activities practiced for mental health by gender, age, place of residence and belonging to a racialized group
Activity Women Men Less than 65 years old 65 years and older Rural areas Urban centres Non-racialized groups Racialized groups
Communicated with friends and family 90% 82% 86% 85% 88% 86% 88% 81%
Participated in hobbies 58% 52% 55% 55% 57% 54% 58% 47%
Exercised outdoors 59% 52% 57% 51% 61% 55% 60% 46%
Exercised indoors 47% 39% 44% 40% 39% 44% 42% 46%
Prayed or sought spiritual guidance 37% 26% 30% 38% 30% 32% 27% 45%
Meditated 26% 18% 24% 17% 18% 23% 20% 29%
Changed their food choices 29% 23% 29% 16% 23% 27% 24% 31%
Changed their sleep patterns 21% 17% 21% 11% 14% 20% 17% 25%
Communicated with a professional 12% 8% 11% 5% 7% 11% 11% 8%

The Public Health Agency of Canada funded the 2021 Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health to better understand the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on the mental health and well-being of Canadians. Responses from adults, aged 18 years and older, living in the 10 provinces and 3 territorial capitals in Canada were collected by Statistics Canada between February and May 2021.

Mental health resources are available

If you, or someone you know, is in a crisis or needs mental health and substance use support, visit Mental health support or Wellness Together Canada for a wide range of resources and supports.

For more information about COVID-19, please visit the Government of Canada website on the Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Data source

Statistics Canada. Survey on COVID-19 and Mental Health (SCMH) 2021 (accessed January 2022). Accessible at: https://www23.statcan.gc.ca/imdb/p2SV.pl?Function=getSurvey&Id=1322324

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