Summary of Major Findings

(first release, December 18, 2020)

  1. Anxiety and depression in Saskatchewan adults have increased and remains high following the COVID-19 outbreak
  • 20% of Saskatchewan respondents (1 in 5) said they experience ‘high’ level of anxiety since COVID, compared to 7.6% before COVID. This is a 163% increase (more than doubled). 15.1% (or 1 in 7) said they experience ‘high’ level of depression since COVID, compared to 7.4% before COVID, a 104% increase (doubled).
  • Saskatchewanians with anxiety during the first 6 months of COVID are likely to be younger (18-34 years 28.8% vs 55+ years 12.5%) and women (22.5% vs. 17.1% of men). Saskatchewanians with depression are likely to be younger (18-34: 22.6% vs 55+ years 7.5%) and men (17.6% vs. 12.9% of women).
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  • Saskatchewanians who experienced ‘high’ anxiety or depression live in different regions in the province. 1 in 5 people in Regina, North and Saskatoon regions experienced ‘high’ anxiety--more than double the number of people compared to before COVID--compared to 1 in 10 people in Central and South regions. Almost 1 in 5 people in North experienced ‘high’ depression—almost tripling the number of people who said so compared to before COVID—compared to 1 in 10 in Central and South regions.
  1. Some Saskatchewanians experience serious psychological distress
  • Almost half of those respondents in Saskatchewan (48%) who report high levels of anxiety and/or depression are likely to be classified as having severe psychological distress (using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale) if COVID-19 and control measures were to continue for the next 2 months.
  1. The COVID-19 outbreak has meant that many Saskatchewanians have lost access to mental health supports
  • Access to services from a mental health professional has declined by almost one-half (18% since COVID compared to 34% before). The uptake of online/phone support hasn’t materialized as anticipated, 10.4% since COVID vs 9.5% before. Receiving service from their doctors has declined even further during the pandemic as compared to before (4.5% vs 11%). Most alarmingly, 10% respondents who needed mental health services didn’t receive it during the pandemic compared to 5% before. 15% respondents who had a mental health disorder before COVID and are still suffering indicated they are no longer being treated.

How the survey was conducted

This is the second of a series of national surveys of Canadians on mental health during COVID-19 sponsored by Mental Health Research Canada (MHRC). Pollara Strategic Insights, a polling firm, conducted the online survey among a sample of 4,010 adult Canadians. Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation (SHRF) partnered with MHRC to sponsor an enhanced sample from Saskatchewan, 576 18-years and older, for stand-alone provincial analysis. The survey in Saskatchewan was conducted over 10 days, August 21 – 31st. The results have been weighted by the most current census data in terms of gender, age and region to ensure the total sample is representative of the population (as of 2016) as a whole. The margin of error of our estimates are ±4.1%. This means, if this was a random sample, the percentage estimates reported will fall within 4.1% of the true value (4.1% higher or lower), 19 out of 20 times.  

Team of Researchers

The analysis of the Saskatchewan mental health and COVID-19 data were led by Dr Nazeem Muhajarine (Community Health and Epidemiology, USask and SPHERU) and team including: Dr Daniel Adeyinka (postdoctoral fellow, SPHERU), Dr Nuelle Novik (Social Work, U of Regina and SPHERU), Dr Bonnie Jeffery (Social Work, U of Regina and SPHERU), Natalie Kallio (research manager, SPHERU) and graduate students. This work was done in collaboration with Saskatchewan Health Research Foundation.

 If you have questions about the survey or our research project, please contact:

Dr. Nazeem Muhajarine
Saskatchewan Population Health and Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU)
Department of Community Health and Epidemiology, University of Saskatchewan
t: 306-966-7940  e: nazeem.muhajarine@usask.ca