Mental Health Facts

Most of us have heard the terms mental illness or mental disorder or psychiatric condition. These terms are used to describe a wide range of different conditions but what they have in common is that they all affect a person’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors — how they see themselves, see the world around them, and how they interact in that world.

The key difference from “having a bad day or week” is both the duration and magnitude of the impacts on your life. There are many different kinds of mental disorders. One in five Canadians, over the course of their lives, will experience a mental illness and what that ultimately means is that every single family in Canada will in some way be affected. There is nobody in Canada who can stand up and say, "Not my family, not my aunts or uncles or cousins or grandparents, children, siblings, spouse or self." And yet the reluctance to talk about mental illness, to acknowledge it openly, to treat it as a form of human suffering like any other illness, relates in part to how threatening this set of illnesses is to our sense of who we are. Mental illness cuts across all age, racial, religious, or socio-economic categories.

Quick Facts

  • The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that by the year 2020 depression will become the No. 2 cause worldwide of years lost due to disability.   
  • The number of suicides in Canada is almost 4,000 people a year. For people aged 15 to 24 in Canada, suicide is the No. 2 cause of death.According to the World Health Organization (WHO) mental illness is the number one leading cause of disability in the world and five of the 10 leading causes of disability are related to mental disorders.
  • Mental illness costs the Canadian economy a staggering $51-billion a year, and each day 500,000 people will miss work due to mental health problems.
  • Each year employers and insurers spend a whopping $8.5 billion on long-term disability claims related to mental illness.
  • Mental illness is the number one cause of disability in Canada, accounting for nearly 30% of disability claims and 70% of total costs. Mental health disorders in the workplace cost Canadian companies nearly 14% of their net annual profits.