Everyone in Ontario is affected by mental illness. Twenty percent are directly affected by mental illness during
their lifetime, while the remaining 80% are indirectly affected through family,
friends and colleagues.1
The number of Ontarians requiring mental health services is
increasing. While the percentage of all health
care users in Ontario rose by 4% between 1992 and 1998, the percentage of
patients requiring mental health services rose by 13%.2
Of those requiring mental health services, the majority are
affected by mild forms of mental illness. Diagnoses include mild depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), as well
as anxiety disorders and phobias.
The mental health system in Ontario is funded to serve the
seriously mentally ill. Three dimensions of
illness are used to identify the most seriously mentally ill: diagnosis, disability,
- Diagnoses includes schizophrenia,
bipolar disorder and chronic depression.
- Disability refers to the extent to
which the individual's ability to function in one or more major life activities
is limited. These life activities include basic living skills (eating,
bathing), instrumental living skills (managing finances, appropriate use of
medication) and functioning in social contexts.
- Duration refers to the ongoing
nature of the illness. This not only refers to continuous evidence of a
disorder, but also to intermittent episodes with periods of full recovery.
- 1% of Ontarians suffer from schizophrenia.
- 3% of Ontarians suffer from bipolar disorder.
- 5-12% of men and 10-25% of women in Ontario will have at least
one episode of major depressive disorder in their lifetime.
- Studies indicate that more than 90% of suicide victims have a
diagnosable psychiatric illness.4
- Persons who have depressive illness carry out 80% of suicides.5
- Both major depression and bipolar disorder account for 15% to
25% of all deaths by suicide in patients with severe mood disorders.6
- Suicide is the most common cause of death for people with
- 15% of people who have significant depressive illness commit
- The number of suicides in Ontario increased from 930 in 1997 to
1,032 in 2001.
- Suicide accounts for 24% of all deaths among 15-24 year olds in
Canada and 16% among 16-44 year olds.
- According to a report by the Canadian Institute of Health
Information (CIHI), more men in Ontario committed suicide in the past 10 years
than died in car crashes. Approximately 591 men committed suicide in Ontario
between 1990 and 2000, while 558 men died in car crashes.9
- Studies consistently confirm a 50-80% prevalence rate of sexual
and physical abuse among persons who later receive diagnoses of mental illness.
- As many as 70% of outpatients and 72% of inpatients diagnosed
with serious mental illness have histories of abuse.10
- Health Canada. (October 2002). A
Report on Mental Illness in Canada. Ottawa, Canada.
- Lin, E. and Goering, P. (1999). The Utilization
of Physician Services for Mental Health in Ontario. Toronto: Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences.
- Government of Ontario. (1999). Making It Happen:
Implementation Plan for Mental Health Reform. Toronto.
- Weir, E. and Wallington, T. (2001). Suicide: The Hidden Epidemic, CMAJ; 165(5):634-6.
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Understanding depression statistics.
- Goodwin, F.K. and Jamison, K.R. (1990). Manic-Depressive
Illness. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, p 227-44.
- Harkavy-Friedman, J.M. and Nelson, E. (1997). Management
of suicidal patients with schizophrenia, Psychiatry Clin North Am; 20(3):625-40.
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. Understanding
- Canadian Institute for Health Information (2002, December). Ontario Trauma Registry 2002 Report Injury Deaths in Ontario. [Online].
- Newmann, J.P. Abuse Histories, Serious
Mental Illness, and the Treatment and Recovery Process.