Fears of poverty, insolvency, unemployment top of mind for stressed out Canadians

But new survey reveals Canadians fear stigma of mental illness the most

It may be little surprise the pandemic has infected Canadians with more stress over debt, but a new survey offers the eye-openers that people fear the stigma of mental illness more than poverty and business failure, and young people are more afraid than their elders.?

With Mental Illness Awareness Week being marked in Canada next week, almost three quarters of the 1,510 respondents polled Sept. 23-25 in the Angus Reid Forum by insolvency company Bromwich+Smith said mental illness carries the heaviest stigma.

Poverty followed at 68 per cent, debt or insolvency at 66 per cent, unemployment at 62 per cent, business failure 46 per cent and divorce at 40 per cent, Bromwich+Smith said.

About three-quarters of Canadians aged 18-34, the highest amount of any age category, said they suffer dread on a number of issues, such as fear of the unknown, compared with 62 per cent of those aged 35-54 and 56 per cent of those over 55, the company said. Women expressed more fear than men: 74 per cent vs 54 per cent.

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“Fear?and ambiguity, especially around uncertain health and economic prospects is a major cause of stress and anxiety,” Shawn Stack, a vice-president at Bromwich+Smith, said in a statement. “We are living in unprecedented times. The trepidation people are feeling is real. It keeps them up at night and it’s hard to find a solution to ease the thoughts.”

The poll showed 70 per cent of respondents fear “the notion that things have changed forever,” the company said.

The Conference Board of Canada, an Ottawa-based research organization, said Wednesday the economic recovery would proceed, but at a slow pace because of the pandemic. Employment might take five years to fully rebound and some sectors such as restaurants will be transformed.

The trepidation people are feeling is real. It keeps them up at night and it’s hard to find a solution to ease the thoughts

Last week the Canadian Federation of independent Businesses said the pandemic may squeeze revenues of small businesses to pre-COVID-19 levels for years in a so-called L-shaped recovery unless Ottawa clears federal aid logjams and boosts consumer confidence.

It forecast restaurants and hotels could take more than eight years to resume pre-pandemic income while building management companies are on pace for a five-year recovery and lawyers and accountants may need two and a half years.

Meantime, Canada’s robust housing market continues largely unfettered except for some urban condo prices and the oil price-impacted Prairies. Perhaps that’s why older people, who often own homes, are less fearful than youth in the Bromwich+Smith survey.

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