Vancouver Island more depressed than rest of B.C according to medical records
Island Health public health officer says it's important to realize how common depression is
There is a higher rate of depression and anxiety in communities on Vancouver Island compared to the rest of the province, according to new statistics from the B.C. Ministry of Health.
The numbers show a 23.9 per cent rate of depression and anxiety on the island, compared to 21.3 per cent across the rest of the province.
"Basically one in four people here on the island, and in the province, have mental health challenges, whether that's depression or anxiety disorders that compromise their lifestyles and their well-being," said Dr. Paul Hasselback, public health officer with Island Health.
Hasselback said it is important not to "over-interpret" the difference between the Island and the rest of the province — as there are many unknown variables in the statistics, which are based on 2013 medical records.
Rates highest in Lake Cowichan
The numbers do vary within the Island. The communities of Nanaimo and Parksville/Qualicum had the lowest rates (21.6 and 21.9 per cent respectively), while Cowichan, Ladysmith/Chemainus and Lake Cowichan were at 26 per cent and above.
"Perhaps now that we've got it out there on the table, we can start looking more carefully, why do we see minor variations in place to place," Hasselback told All Points West host Robyn Burns.
Hasselback said there is still a lot of stigma around mental illness, resulting in many not feeling comfortable enough to seek out help.
He said he'd like to see those barriers removed.
"There's a recognition that this is the most common illness that we face in our communities — it doesn't matter which community we're looking at — and that if we're trying to look at improving the health of our communities we really need to look at improving our mental well-being as well."
Hasselback said that many health services in the province "are stretched all the time, and … mental health services are particularly stretched."
With files from CBC's All Points West
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