4.1 MENTAL WELLBEING

MENTAL HEALTH

Key Messages

Most Lambton County residents have very good or excellent mental health. Our residents are as likely as Ontario and Canadian residents to report very good or excellent mental health.

Those who are less likely to report good mental health are younger residents, and people living with low financial resources or with chronic physical conditions.

90% of residents report a high level of resilience, but those who are languishing or moderate in mental wellbeing were less likely to report being resilient.

“Mental health is significant for much of our daily lives, how we view the world and others, how we view ourselves and how good we are to ourselves. Whereas, mental illness to me, refers to a clinical diagnosis made by a health professional.”

– Community member

“Mental health affects everyone, whether you struggle personally or a family member, a friend, co-worker, teacher, bus driver – we all need support.”

Youth mental health care worker

What is mental health?

Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to his or her community (World Health Organization, 2004). We think of mental health as a positive concept, and throughout this report we will use mental health and mental wellbeing in reference to positive mental health.

How is mental illness related to mental health?

Mental illness and mental health are not two sides of the same coin. More and more, we are realising that someone can have a mental illness and yet have good mental health with proper medical and social support, self-management and care. Similarly, someone can suffer from symptoms of poor mental health without necessarily having a mental illness. Most mental health agencies use a version of the model developed by Keyes (2002), to describe mental health and mental illness, with each having its own continuum.

How did we measure mental health?

We measured mental health in a few different ways. First, we asked people to rate their own mental health from poor to good or excellent. But, we know people have different ideas of what mental health is, so we asked a set of questions to get an idea of people’s emotional, psychological and social wellbeing. These three components combine into a “Wellbeing Index” that has 3 categories: Flourishing, Moderate and Languishing. These were modeled after questions used by Statistics Canada to assess positive mental health. Finally, we asked what factors limit mental health and how people look after their own mental health.

Self-Rated Wellbeing

In 2016, 7 in 10 Lambton residents, 18 years and older, self-rated their mental health as very good or excellent, 18% rated it as good, and 12% rated it as fair or poor.  Young adults, those living in lower income households and those with a chronic illness were less likely to report positive mental health.

Our survey results were similar to those obtained through the most recent Canadian Community Health Survey (2015/16) and Lambton estimates of very good or excellent mental health do not differ significantly from provincial or national averages (Statistics Canada, n.d. a).

Percentage reporting excellent or very good mental health:
0
of all adults
0
of adults 18-34 years old
0
of those with household incomes <$30,000
0
of those with a chronic illness
83
were satisfied with life and happy
85
say they can manage the daily responsibilities of life
83
had warm and trusting relationships
63
felt they belonged to a community

Emotional, Psychological and Social Wellbeing

Residents reported a strong sense of emotional and psychological wellbeing. While social wellbeing scores were lower than the other components of mental wellbeing, they are consistent with the national average.

Wellbeing Index

3 out of 4 residents were classified as “flourishing.” Those living in lower income households, those with chronic conditions and family members acting as caregivers were less likely to be “flourishing”.

Again, Lambton is similar to Ontario and Canada with respect to positive mental health. In 2015, about 80% of Ontario and Canada residents were classified as “flourishing” (Statistics Canada, n.d. b).

76%

FLOURISHING

they felt good about and functioned well in their daily life

61% of those with income <$30,000
70% of those with a chronic illness
68% of caregivers

21%

MODERATE

3%

LANGUISHING

they experience low positive emotions and function poorly

“Often families have so much on their plates that they themselves are sometimes even more stressed and worried than individuals accessing supports. The more families feel comfortable talking about mental health the better the outcome for everyone.”

– Adult mental health care worker

Percentage reporting a high level of resiliency, by wellbeing index category
FLOURISHING 0
MODERATE 0
LANGUISHING 0

Resilience

In a general sense, resilience is a person’s ability to cope with adversity and stressors. Overall, 9 in 10 residents report a high level of resiliency. Those classified as “moderate” and “languishing” were significantly less likely than those who were “flourishing” to score high on the resiliency index. Residents with lower education and those with lower household income are less likely to report a high level of resiliency. There are no significant differences by age or gender.

Factors that Lead to Poor Mental Health

Lambton residents identified various factors that negatively affect their mental health. Workload, household responsibilities, poor relationships, illnesses or bereavement, being surrounded by negative people, feeling judged by others, poor self-care and social isolation were some of the underlying causes of stress and poor mental health.

One in three say they are too busy to do things to address their mental health — One in two of those moderate or languishing

“Being too busy, having too much on my plate makes me feel overwhelmed and I get depressed.”

– Community member

“I have financial issues at the moment which make me very anxious. I am also very lonely.”

– Community member

“Being relied upon for everything in the house and for everything the kids need, not getting help with any of it ever.”

– Community member

97
agree that regular physical activity contributes to positive mental health
73
agree that activities like meditation and yoga contribute to positive mental health

How We Look After Our Own Mental Health

Nearly all Lambton residents recognize that regular physical activity contributes to positive mental health and most agree that activities like meditation and yoga can have positive benefits for mental health. For the most part, individuals do their best to look after their mental health and adopt various strategies such as self-care, relaxation activities, maintaining a positive outlook, or talking to friends or peers.

“I try and take care of my mental health on a daily basis. When I don’t acknowledge it and do something about it is when my mental health suffers.”

– Community member

“Just giving myself breaks from the everyday and taking time for myself.  I feel it’s necessary to de-stress in order to stay in a good place or the everyday stressors can build up.”

– Community member

“Developing relationships with coworkers who understand the difficult nature of our jobs. Learning how to “leave work at work” and living a full life outside of the workplace. Introspection about one’s own wellness and wellness-related needs.”

– Mental health care worker

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MENTAL HEALTH LITERACY