Perceived need for mental health care in Canada: Results from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey

Click here to print this page
Wednesday September 18, 2013


Past research and national survey data on Canadians’ perceived need for mental health care (MHC) have focused on unmet needs overall, and have not considered specifi c types of MHC needs or the extent to which needs are met.

Data and methods

Using data from the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey–Mental Health, this article describes the prevalence of perceived MHC needs for information, medication, counselling and other services. The degree to which each type of need was met is explored. Associations between risk factors for having MHC needs and the extent to which needs were met are investigated.


In 2012, an estimated 17% of the population aged 15 or older reported having an MHC need in the past 12 months. Two-thirds (67%) reported that their need was met; for another 21%, the need was partially met; and for 12%, the need was unmet. The most commonly reported need was for counselling, which was also the least likely to be met. Distress was identifi ed as a predictor of perceived MHC need status.


Many Canadians are estimated to have MHC needs, particularly for counselling. People with elevated levels of distress are signifi cantly more likely to have unmet and partially met MHC needs than to have fully met MHC needs, regardless of the presence of mental or substance disorders.


Adam Sunderland and Leanne C. Findlay (1-613-951-4648; are with the Health Analysis Division at Statistics Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0T6.