Measuring positive mental health in Canada: Myths and facts

Positive mental health is the capacity to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance the ability to enjoy life and deal with challenges.

Myth: Positive mental health cannot be measured

FACT: It can be measured; population health surveys show us that in Canada:  

  • 2 in 3 Canadians rate their mental health as either very good or excellent  and 4 in 5 Canadians report they are happy every day or almost every day

Myth: Having a mental illness means that you cannot have positive mental health

FACT: Enhancing positive mental health is possible for everyone, even those with a mental illness

  • Approximately 5% of Canadians report symptoms consistent with a mood disorder. Among these individuals, almost half (46%) report they have a strong sense of belonging to their local community

Myth: Physical health and positive mental health are not connected

FACT:  There is no health without mental health. Both are important to an individual’s overall health

  • 85% of Canadians who rate their physical health as very good or excellent also rate their mental health as very good or excellent
  • 79% of Canadians who report a diagnosis of at least one major chronic diseaseFootnote * report they are satisfied with life every day or almost every day

Myth: Mental health is solely influenced by personal factors

FACT: Positive mental health is influenced by factors such as early life experiences, family, community and society

  • Among Canadians reporting strong ties to their community, 77% have high psychological well-being

Data source: 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey – Mental Health, self-reported data of the population aged 18 years and older.

This infographic is the third in a series of knowledge products responding to the need for better data on positive mental health. The Public Health Agency of Canada is working to identify, organize, and present data on positive mental health outcomes, and protective and risk factors. This infographic provides some examples of these data.

Please visit us online at Canada.ca

For the latest data, search: public health infobase
For more information, search: promoting positive mental health 

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