The prevalence and effects of mental health problems are far-reaching...

Twenty percent of the population, that is one person in five, will suffer from a mental health problem every year.  Among these, 10% will suffer from anxiety disorders and 5% from depression.

The social and economic impacts of mental disorders are significant and affect individuals, their family members and all of society.  Mental disorders are the main cause of disability and generate enormous direct and indirect costs to society in terms of medical, pharmaceutical and social services, as well as loss of employment and productivity in the workplace, premature deaths and costs to the judicial system.

The impact of stigmatization cannot be underestimated. In addition to creating social isolation and a sense of shame and guilt, stigmatization prohibits people who suffer from mental disorders from seeking the treatments or services that they need.  The resulting consequences are well known: people don’t obtain treatments or they stop treatments prematurely, the illness progresses, individuals lose their jobs, etc.

Mental Health in Quebec1

  • Treated mental disorders affect on average 11.5% (902,500) of the population annually.  A comparison with the annual prevalence of hypertension (15.1%), asthma (8.6%), cardiac problems (5.1%) and diabetes among individuals aged 12 and older in Quebec2  highlights the magnitude of mental disorders.
  • 64.4% (581,400) of those affected suffer from anxiety disorders and depression.
  • The prevalence of anxiety disorders and depression is greater in the 35-65 age group than in other age groups.
  • The mortality rate in people with mental disorders is greater than in the general population.
  • Traumatic injury, most notably suicide, explains the higher mortality rate in people with anxiety disorders and depression.


Economic Impacts

The economic impacts of mental disorders for Quebec have not yet been determined, but those for Canada as a whole help us understand their magnitude;

  • Direct costs associated with treatment of mental disorders (services in healthcare establishments, medical services, medication) are evaluated at $42.3 billion per year.
  • Indirect costs (short term sick days, disability, premature death) are evaluated at $6.3 billion per year.3

These costs do not consider costs in other sectors of activity (judicial system; school system; youth services), the economic impact on families or direct and indirect costs resulting from non-treatment of mental disorders.

Given the prevalence of mental disorders, it can be expected that direct and indirect costs will increase with the demographic increase in the population as well as with the aging of the population.


The Importance of Accessible Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy services, like some medications, are now accepted as part of the treatment options for common mental disorders.  

Psychotherapy services:

  • respond to the needs of individuals and of doctors who can refer their patients to such services; and
  • provide beneficial results in the long, medium and short term for the individual and for society in general in terms of a reduction in the number of sick days, an increase in the number of days at work and a decrease in the use of other healthcare resources or services.

In fact, in countries where measures to increase access to such services have been implemented, economic studies on the cost-benefits of access to psychotherapy have identified cost-savings in use of social services, other healthcare services such as hospitalizations, general and specialized medical services, and of medications, as well as an increase in revenues and income taxes for the government given that people remain in the work force instead of being on sick leave.

Additional Resources

A number of studies and reports have clearly demonstrated the pertinence of increased access to psychotherapy services as well as the benefits that it provides in terms of clinical and economic results.  We have compiled a selection of research reports and studies on access to psychotherapy and the advantages that it provides.  

1A. Lesage, V. Émond, Surveillance des troubles mentaux au Québec : prévalence, mortalité et profil d’utilisation des services. Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Surveillance des maladies chroniques, numéro 6, 2012. Données 2009-2010.

2L. Cazale, P. Lapierre, V. Nanhou. Maladies chroniques au Québec et au Canada : évolution récente et comparaison régionale. Institut de la statistique du Québec, Zoom santé, no 17, jan 2009.

3Mental Health Commission of Canada. The Life and Economic Impact of Major Mental Illnesses in Canada. December 2011.