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Sociodemographic variation in increasing needs for mental health services among Canadian adults from 2002 to 2012

TitleSociodemographic variation in increasing needs for mental health services among Canadian adults from 2002 to 2012
Year of Publication2019
AuthorsDrapeau, A., Fleury M-J., and Gentil L.
JournalPsychiatric Quarterly
Pages137 - 150
Keywordscanada, health services, major depression, psychological distress, sociodemographic factors, unmet needs for care

Background Numerous countries have developed public health programs and restructured mental health service delivery to alleviate the growing burden of mental illness. These initiatives address increased needs for mental health services, as individuals become better-informed and more open-minded concerning psychiatric symptoms and mental health care. This study aimed to investigate how needs for mental health services have increased among Canadian adults in recent years, and how needs may differ across different sociodemographic groups. Data and methods The study compared data from the Canadian Community Health Survey for 2002 (n = 31,744), and 2012 (n = 23,319), including respondents 18 years old and over. Needs for mental health services were defined in terms of major depression (MD), psychological distress (PD), consultations with various health professionals, and by objective and perceived unmet needs (PUNs). Odds ratios were estimated using hierarchical logistic regressions, controlling for sociodemographic variables. Results Overall, needs for mental health services were higher in 2012 than in 2002, with increases affecting some sociodemographic groups more than others. MD and PD grew disproportionately among lower income individuals and women. Individuals hospitalized for psychiatric reasons, those unemployed, and men accounted for most of the increase in healthcare consultations. PUNs were more pronounced among unemployed individuals, and respondents born in Canada. Conclusion Findings from this study confirm the increasing and need for mental health services in Canada, and suggest that public health campaigns should be geared to specific sociodemographic groups.

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