Canadians Rank Low On Global Mental Wellbeing List, 1 In 4 People “Distressed”

Canadians Rank Low On Global Mental Wellbeing List, 1 In 4 People “Distressed”

What does Canada have in common with two of the world’s most restrictive regimes? The state of its population’s mental health. Sapien Labs has released its fourth annual Mental State of the World rankings, and things are stagnating. Post-pandemic, English speaking countries saw their score dive. Initially researchers believed this would be a temporary phase, though little to no improvement has been seen. 

About Today’s Data: Mental Health Quotients 

Today’s data is from the Mental State of The World project that attempts to quantify wellbeing. The annual report is based on over 500,000 respondents across 13 languages and 71 countries. Researchers then assign a mental health quotient (MHQ) to quantify the results. 

An MHQ is kind of like IQ scores but for mental health wellbeing. It’s a 300-point scale going from -100 (extremely dissatisfied) to 200 (most satisfied). A score above 100 indicates a person is thriving, while a score below 0 means they’re distressed. Countries then receive a score across multiple categories to help determine their final score to rank. 

English Speaking Countries Did Not Bounce Back Post-Pandemic

The global state of mental health hasn’t budged much post pandemic. The average score was an MHQ of 65, with 38% of respondents scoring above 100 (succeeding or thriving). Since last year, the scores haven’t budged—perplexing researchers that believed the sharp pandemic decline would reverse once lock downs were lifted. 

Mental Health Has Not Recovered To Pre-Pandemic Levels

The mental health quotient (MHQ) since 2019.

Source: Sapien Labs; The Mental State of the World 2023. 

The survey initially covered 8 English speaking countries with an aggregate score cut in nearly a third. Now the group ranks below the general aggregate of other regions. 

Spanish Speaking Countries Are Thriving, English Countries Aren’t

Less advanced economies dominate the top of the list while the bottom was surprising. Countries that scored the highest for mental health wellbeing were all considered “developing”—including the Dominican Republic, Sri Lanka, and Tanzania. These countries had MHQs of 88 or higher on average.

On the other side of the scale were the lowest ranks—Brazil, South Africa, the UK, and Uzbekistan. These countries ranked from 48 to 53, close to half the score of the top.  

The researchers identified a few common themes when it came to ranking. Spanish-speaking Latin American countries tend to lead at the top of the list. Meanwhile, “Core Anglosphere” and Russian-speaking countries managed to land at the bottom.  

Spanish Speaking Countries Rank High For Mental Wellbeing

Countries ranked by mental health quotient (MHQ). Higher scores mean mental wellbeing is stronger than lower scores. 

Source: Sapien Labs; The Mental State of the World 2023. 

Canada managed to score 67, ranking just under Saudi Arabia and above the UAE. For context, the US managed to score 72—ranking 10 spots above Canada. 

The “Anglosphere” Is Distressed, 1 In 4 Canadians Struggling

When it comes to distressed respondents, the good news is things aren’t getting much worse. The bad news is things got much worse during the pandemic and have stayed that way. The 8 English speaking countries initially tracked went from 14% of people distressed in 2019 to 29% in 2023—more than doubling over the period, and slightly higher than the 27% average. 

The Share of Distressed Adults Has Doubled Since 2019

The share of adults ranked as distressed or struggling. 

Source: Sapien Labs; The Mental State of the World 2023. 

Topping the list with the smallest share of distressed people were Sri Lanka, Italy, Georgia, and Nigeria (ranging from 14 to 17%). The largest share of distressed people were in Brazil, South Africa, and the UK (34 to 35% of people). 

Share of Canadians Distressed On Par With Syria & Mexico 

The share of adults ranked as distressed or struggling. 

Source: Sapien Labs; The Mental State of the World 2023. 

Canada ranked on the lower end, with more than 1 in 4 (26%) people distressed. That makes it tied with Ecuador, Mexico, Syria, and Bangladesh. Obviously Canada sticks out in that group, since the other countries are all known for having great food. 

Mental Health of Young Adults Driving Trend Lower In Anglosphere

Driving scores lower was the erosion of mental health for young adults. The MHQ for those 18 to 24 in the original 8 english-speaking countries fell roughly two-thirds from 2019 to 2023. The decline in score shrunk with older demographics, with Boomers seeing virtually no change over time.

Boomers Thrive While Youths Take A Dive In English Countries

The mental health quotient (MHQ) of adults by age group. 

Source: Sapien Labs; The Mental State of the World 2023. 

Researchers also found three key correlations driving lower scores—smartphones, processed foods, and a lesson the Fast & Furious have been trying to teach—family. The earlier a child received their smartphone, the more likely they were to be distressed; Respondents that identified as distressed were 3x more likely to eat ultra-processed foods daily; and mental health challenges are four times lower for those with close family relationships. 

They suggest this may help to explain the decline in the wealthier Core Anglosphere. Both smartphone use at an early age and processed foods are much more prevalent in these regions. At the same time, the researchers found respondents in these regions had the lowest closeness to family (23%) and the least “stable and loving childhood homes” (39%). 

“Altogether this suggests that greater wealth and economic development does not necessarily lead to greater mental wellbeing, but instead can lead to consumption patterns and a fraying of social bonds that are detrimental to our ability to thrive,” concludes the report. 

Though the researchers seemed to have glossed over one obvious point—opportunity. Fast growing, developing countries tend to offer the most upwards social mobility while advanced economies tend to offer slower growth. It’s likely not very encouraging for youth in advanced economies to realize their odds of obtaining things like stable shelter are lower than that of their parents. 



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  • CLEAR TITLE BUYER 2 months ago

    Canadians and immigrants pickled themselves in debts and now don’t have pot to piss in. So sad too bad. They should have rented and bought cheap deals in the USA.

  • Craig R 2 months ago

    This is the ennui that hangs like mist over our inner cities.

  • Lahdeedah 2 months ago

    Good data reporting

  • Larry 2 months ago

    Global stats indicate Canada has a high GDP approx. 2 trillion. Many countries are experiencing slow markets. Canada is a strong social country. Guess we could always do better, and perhaps will in a stronger world economy. Our biggest problem are the global threats from parts of Asia and accomplices who are out to weaken Western Civilization. Some of these threats come from internal organizations whom have their own agendas in political realms.

  • dan 2 months ago

    blame trudope again for doubling down on housing. this caused everything

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