The results of a new survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association found that the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic is starting to take its toll on the majority of the population.

Overall, 40 per cent of survey respondents said their mental health has deteriorated in some way since the onset of the pandemic.

But 71 per cent said they were worried about the second wave of the pandemic.

Some of the biggest factors contributing to people’s stress include fears of a loved one or family member dying, of contracting the virus themselves, worries about being separated from loved ones, and the safety and effectiveness of a COVID-19 vaccine.

Thoughts of suicide or self harm have also risen considerably among specific populations, particularly LGBTQ2+, 28 per cent of whom reported suicidal thoughts compared to 14 per cent during the first wave of the pandemic.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions, disabilities, Indigenous peoples, and parents of children under age 18 also reported increased suicidal thoughts or feelings during the second wave.

While many have taken up are considered healthy coping strategies, like exercising outdoors, survey results show others have increased their alcohol and substance use intake to feel better.

The survey was conducted by academic researchers from the University of British Columbia (UBC) and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in partnership with Maru/Matchbox.

A total of 3,027 people who make up a representative sample of the Canadian population (by age, gender, region, and household income) were surveyed between May 14 and 29, for the first wave of the pandemic, and between September 14 and 21 for the second wave, setting up a comparative study of mental health impacts.

The maximum margin of error for proportions derived from the sample of 3,027 participants is +/- 1.79% at a 95% level of confidence.

The full results of the survey can be found here.

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