Canada’s 69th annual Mental Health Week runs May 4-10, 2020. This year for Mental Health Week, CMHA promotes social connection to protect mental health in these difficult times

Despite a pandemic-driven growth in video-conferencing and social media usage, Canadians are feeling more isolated than ever (up eight points from 39% to 47% in less than one month) and crave real, meaningful connections. In fact, two thirds of Canadians (67%) report they would like to experience more meaningful social interactions in their daily life.

"Most Canadians want more social connection, yet they're reluctant to have the kind of honest, open conversations that build the connection they crave," says Margaret Eaton, national CEO of CMHA. "In our society, it's a cultural norm to ask people how they're doing, but not to expect, nor provide, a truthful answer. This Mental Health Week, it's time to get real about how we feel. It's clear we need each other more than ever."

Prior to the global pandemic, loneliness was already a major public health concern. People with weak or few social connections are at increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and suicide. And a lack of strong relationships has the same negative impact on life expectancy as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

As we face social distancing measures, it's important to note that people don't need to be close to feel close.
"We have to be creative about leaning on each other via fun or different virtual means, calling friends, checking in on our neighbours and supporting community efforts to care for those who are struggling. It doesn't just feel good to connect—it's actually good for everyone's mental health," says Eaton.

The focus of this year's Mental Health Week is to promote social connection and the role it plays in good mental health. To get involved, you can:

Connect. If you or someone you love is struggling, please contact your local CMHA to find out about virtual and phone-based support services there to help you. Or, visit the Government of Canada's Wellness Together portal. If you are in crisis, please call 1-833-456-4566 toll free in Canada.