British Columbia

Young adults more likely to have mental health issues amid pandemic, survey shows

Under 40 Metro Vancouver residents Mara Rusu, Tyler Johnson and Beau Bridge all say they have struggled with mental health issues during COVID-19. They also say the pandemic has helped them spend more time with their families and friends.

3 Metro Vancouver residents under 40 share how they cope with job loss and loneliness

A woman is shown sitting on the ground with her head in her hands.
The latest CAMH survey indicates that adults under 40 are more likely than older adults to experience anxiety, depression and other mental health issues amid the pandemic. (Shutterstock/panitanphoto)

Young adult Canadians are more likely to experience mental health issues during COVID-19, but three of them in the Lower Mainland say the pandemic has also given them the opportunity to spend more time with family and friends.

Findings from the latest survey by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) suggests adults under the age of 40 are more likely to have moderate to severe anxiety, engage in binge drinking, or feel lonely and depressed during the pandemic compared to those who are older.

The study sampled more than 4,000 English-speaking Canadians over the age of 18 from May 8 to July 14. The survey has a comparable margin of error of +/-3.1 percentage points.

Job loss due to the pandemic is one of the factors that affects the respondents' psychological health, according to CAMH's online survey. 

Mara Rusu, 18, lost her part-time job while studying political science at Burnaby's Simon Fraser University. Because of this, she has been spending more time at home with her parents in Coquitlam, B.C., which was initially difficult for her.

"I thought that I was going to be moving out soon," Rusu told Gloria Macarenko, host of CBC's On The Coast.

"I was getting my life together ready to move on to the next chapter, and then that completely stopped."

But Rusu says she has found comfort in spending more time with her mother, whom she wouldn't normally see as often because before the pandemic they were both working. 

Mara Rusu, 18, lost her part-time job due to the pandemic and had to stay with her parents at their home for a longer time, which she initially considered a challenge. (Monica Rusu)

Tyler Johnson also lost work when the pandemic hit. 

Johnson, who uses the pronouns they/them, has been taking a gap year since graduating from high school. The 19-year-old was furloughed in March from a part-time job, and it took several months before more work came along.

"The mental health of me during this pandemic has been a bit of a roller coaster," Johnson said. 

Johnson lives with friends in Maple Ridge. Having roommates has been helpful, Johnson says, but can't replace being with family, which they weren't able to see during the height of the pandemic in B.C.

"I wasn't able to see my mom or go to my mom's house and see my cat for months, which took a huge toll on me," Johnson said. 

Self-talk to maintain a positive attitude has been beneficial, Johnson says, as well as remembering that others are going through many of the same problems.

Tyler Johnson, 19, was furloughed from a part-time work in March and had to find another job several months later in order to make ends meet. (Meika Johnson)

Beau Han Bridge, 26, also saw his work-life affected by the coronavirus.

Bridge is the artistic director of Vancouver-based Midtwenties Theatre Society. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, his show scheduled at The Cultch Theatre in March had to be cancelled. 

Bridge said he felt a sense of loss when he wasn't able work with his collaborators.   

Beau Han Bridge, 26, saw his theatrical show cancelled due to COVID-19, and as a result had to move back to live with his parents. (Kristine Cofsky)

As a result, Bridge had to move back to live with his parents in Abbotsford, B.C., but he considers this a blessing.

"I was a very busy person living in Vancouver, but when [the pandemic] happened, it made me really think about my family," he said.

Bridge says he decided to spend extra time with his parents and get to know them on a deeper level.

With files from On The Coast, Perlita Stroh and Ioanna Roumeliotis