Mental Health Week Kicks off May 4 with a Call to Get Real about Mental Health

Even before COVID-19, loneliness and social isolation were a major concern in our society.

After more than a month of physical distancing, a new survey says we are feeling anxious on the inside but telling others we are fine.

According to new data released today by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in partnership with Maru/Matchbox, 77 per cent of British Columbians who were asked “how are you?” say they are fine, despite feeling more negative emotions than positive ones these days (53% negative vs. 47% positive). The data were released to mark Canada’s 69th annual Mental Health Week, which runs May 4-10, 2020.

Canadians are feeling more isolated than ever (up 12 points from 39% to 47% in less than one month) and crave real, meaningful connections. Two-thirds of British Columbians (66%) report they would like to experience more meaningful social interactions in their daily life as the pandemic-driven growth in video-conferencing and social media usage fails to meet those needs.

“We are so accustomed to saying ‘fine’ when someone asks how we are. We think it is the appropriate and polite thing to say. And we’ve continued to answer this way even though we are in the midst of a worldwide pandemic,” said Julia Payson, CMHA Vernon & District Executive Director.

“It is hard to change what we consider ‘socially acceptable behaviour’,” she said. “But by sharing the reality of challenges you are facing not only does it allow others to support you, but it reduces stigma and makes it easier for other people to say when they aren’t fine as well. I’ve tried to be honest myself about how this has been a struggle for me. Some days are good, and other days are really hard.”

Nearly half of British Columbians are feeling anxious (47%), and only eight per cent are feeling happy. As we face physical distancing measures, it’s important to note that people don’t need to be close to feel close. Strong social networks lead to better self-esteem, coping mechanisms and a sense of well-being, and reduce depression and distress by providing emotional support, companionship and opportunities for meaningful social engagement.[1]

“The focus of this year’s Mental Health Week is to promote social connection and the role it plays in good mental health,” said Payson. “Right now, we are all having to find new and creative ways to strengthen these social connections and promote our mental health. One first step, is to be real and honest when someone asks how you are. And to support those who can be honest with us.”

To get involved, you can:

  • Join us for our Webinar Series Healthy Minds, Connected Minds. Participants will need a laptop, table or smart phone, and can sign up at [email protected]
  • Sign up for our new Phone Buddy program to help community members stay connected during times of isolation. If you would like a Phone Buddy or want to volunteer to be one, please contact CMHA at [email protected] and we will match you with someone with similar interests and hobbies.
  • Bounce Back is a free service that aims to be an empowering and practical way of learning key life skills that can boost your mood and help you get back on track. Sign up at
  • Learn more about your mental health and how to feel close even when we can’t be at
  • Share your support on social media by downloading a toolkit at and using hashtags #GetReal #MentalHealthWeek and #TogetherApart
  • Donate to support CMHA Vernon mental health programs and services at
    Connect. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call CMHA at 250.542.3114 to find out about virtual and phone-based support services to help you. Or, visit the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together portal.
  • If you are in crisis, please call 1-888-353-2273.

About the Data

CMHA partnered with Maru/Matchbox to conduct an online survey among a total of 1,507 Canadian adults on April 15, 2020. A probability sample of this size would have a margin of error of +/- 2.5%, nineteen times out of twenty. The sample was weighted to reflect the Canadian adult population according to the most recent Census data. Additional data was taken from Maru’s ongoing, near-daily FEEL, BEHAVE, THINK COVID-19 tracking study. For more information, please go to

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