Loneliness has overtaken the fear of death for many during the pandemic, a new report from the Morneau Shepell mental health index suggests.
According to the index, September's figures show a 10.2 point decline from the pre-2020 benchmark. This remains a consistent trend, as July and August saw a drop of 10.4 and 11.2 points from the benchmark, respectively.
"The level of mental health in September remains concerning as it indicates that the working population is currently as distressed as the most distressed four percent of working Canadians, prior to 2020," the report reads.
Financial losses and the fear of illness were the most prevalent concerns, though those who identified loneliness as a concern saw a mental health score at negative 25.8—lower than the negative 17.7 score those who feared death from COVID-19 gave.
Moreover, provinces that loosened lockdown restrictions during the late summer months saw increases in mental health. "From August to September, Alberta's mental health score increased by 2 points, Quebec increased by 1.5 points, and Ontario increased by 1 point as 're-opening' continued," the study found.
The data for this report was collected through an online survey of 3,000 Canadians who are living in Canada and are currently employed or who were employed within the prior six months. Participants were selected to be representative of the age, gender, industry and geographic distribution in Canada.