74% of Ontarians experiencing increased mental health, substance use challenges during pandemic

A campaign is calling on the government to do more to reduce wait times for mental health help
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According to a new campaign by Ontario’s leading mental health and addiction organizations, 74% of Ontarians have experienced an increase in mental health and addiction challenges during the pandemic.

“Everything Is Not OK” is a campaign that describes the various impacts COVID-19 has had on the mental health of children, youth and adults. 

It calls for immediate action by all levels of government to help the crisis by reducing wait times for mental health and addiction services.

The campaign shows staggering statistics on its website, claiming that 30% of 74% people experiencing high mental health issues are at high risk, while 19% are at moderate risk.

It states a 35-40% increase in overdose rates and opioid-related deaths since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.

According to the campaign, half of Ontario’s children and youth are at risk of having mental health issues, while 42% of Ontario adults have increased substance use or gambling.


1,500 people in Ontario have died from overdose since the start of the pandemic, according to the campaign.

It highlighted an upward trend in sucide risks across Canada, stating that 2.5% of the population admitted to having suicidal thoughts pre-pandemic, with 6.4% in May 2020 and 10% in October 2020.

(PHOTO: Courtesy  of EverythingIsNotOk official website)

“We are calling on the government to prioritize reducing wait times for mental health and addiction services across the province,” the campaign states, “because no matter who you are, your race, your gender, your sexuality, where you live or how much money you make you should have timely access to quality mental health and addiction services.”

The campaign found that a total of 28,000 children and youth are on wait lists for mental health care, and some will have to wait as long as 2.5 years depending on where they live in the province.

The average wait time for adult residual treatment for substance use is approximately 100 days.

COVID-19 has been around for over a year and in Ontario, impacting the lives of many with a declining economy, isolation and fears over the virus.

Researchers have found that youth are experiencing some of the greatest declines in mental health, with constant back and forth on closing and re-opening schools and facing isolation from friends.

Other statistics found over 25,000 businesses have shut down since the start of the pandemic in Ontario, resulting in massive rates of unemployment and bankruptcies.

“Everything Is Not OK” vocalizes the problems that many have had to deal with since the virus began spreading across the province and the country.

“Parents are attempting to work while helping teach their kids. Seniors have been isolated from their loved ones. At-risk populations are being overlooked. Students have not seen their friends. Healthcare workers are at a breaking point,” states the campaign.

People can show their support for the cause by using the hashtag #NotOk on social media or signing a petition that calls on the government to do more to address the issue.

Wiki Production Code: A0704

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