By the Numbers: A statistical profile of people with mental health and addiction disabilities in Ontario

Research Report Round-up by Jessica Elgie

Ontarians with disabilities related to mental health and substance use have lower levels of education, less income, are less likely to work, and are less likely to live in adequate, affordable housing compared to people with other disabilities and people without disabilities.

In this Research Report Round-up, we take a look at a report which highlights the unique disadvantages that people with mental health and substance use problems experience in different social and economic areas.

This report can help policy makers, researchers, disability groups, and service providers to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including those related to mental health or substance use. It can also be useful for individuals and groups when filing claims at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) or other legal venues. Finally, this information can provide a baseline for comparison in the future and can contribute to Canada’s reporting obligations under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Research Report Round-ups are brief summaries of research reports, presented in a user-friendly format.

What this report is about

Ontarians with disabilities related to mental health and substance use have lower levels of education, less income, are less likely to work, and are less likely to live in adequate, affordable housing compared to people with other disabilities and people without disabilities.

This report highlights the unique disadvantages that people with mental health and substance use problems experience in different social and economic areas. 

The following results are from the 2012 Canadian Survey on Disability, which surveyed people aged 15 and over:

  • 15.4% of Ontarians report having a disability – that is, they have difficulty performing tasks as a result of a long-term condition or health-related problem and experience a limitation in their daily activities. Of this number, 4.8% report a disability due to a mental health or addiction problem, and 10.6% report other disabilities. In other words, of all Ontarians who report a disability, almost one-third report a disability related to mental health or substance use problem.   
  • The prevalence of mental health and substance use disabilities is slightly higher among Ontarians (4.8%) than the rest of Canada (3.9%). The same is true for people with other disabilities (10.6% among Ontarians and 9.9% among Canadians). 
  • The vast majority of Ontarians who report a mental health or substance use disability also report having another type of disability (90.5%). 

A greater proportion of people in Ontario with mental health or substance use disabilities report having severe or very severe disabilities (73.8%) compared to people with other disabilities (39.5%). 

  • A slightly greater proportion of Ontario women (5%) than men (4.5%) report mental health or addiction disabilities. 
  • A greater proportion of people with mental health and substance use disabilities are younger (aged 15-34 years) and in mid-life (aged 35-54 years) than people with other disabilities. People aged 15-24 account for 9.3% of all Ontarians who report mental health and substance use disabilities, which is more than twice the proportion of people with other disabilities (3.5%).   
  • More than twice the proportion of Indigenous peoples living off reserve in Ontario (12%) report mental health and substance use disabilities compared to non-Indigenous people (4.6%). 
  • Ontarians who identify as belonging to a racialized group report lower prevalence of mental health and substance use disabilities (3.3%) compared to non-racialized people and Indigenous peoples (5.3% for both groups combined). 
  • A higher proportion of Ontarians with mental health and substance use disabilities are separated or divorced (19.3%) than people with other disabilities overall (10.4%) and people without disabilities (7.1%). A smaller proportion of Ontarians with mental health or substance use disabilities are married or in a common-law relationship (45.6%) than people with other disabilities (60.6%) or people without disabilities (59.8%). 
  • Ontarians with mental health and substance use disabilities generally have lower levels of education compared to people without disabilities. More than a quarter of people with mental health and substance use disabilities (25.9%) and people with other disabilities (28.8%) have not completed high school. This compares to 16.4% of people without disabilities.
  • A much smaller proportion of people with mental health and substance use disabilities have a university degree (8.5%) than people without disabilities (24.8%).  
  • A somewhat greater proportion of people with mental health and substance use disabilities have completed a college diploma or a trade certificate (33.9%) compared to people with other disabilities (29.1%) and people with no disabilities (30.7%). 
  • Ontarians with mental health and substance use disabilities are have greater risk of poverty than people without disabilities. A greater proportion (19.6%) have a low-income status compared to people with no disabilities (10.4%) and people with other disabilities (7.9%). 
  • Ontarians with mental health and substance use disabilities are less likely to have a job and are more likely to be unemployed:
  • In 2011, 54% of people with mental health and substance use disabilities who were between the ages of 15 and 64 were not employed, compared to 42.9% of people with other disabilities and 21% of people without disabilities.
  • The 2011 unemployment rate for Ontarians aged 15 to 64 with mental health or substance use disabilities (22.6%) was more than twice as high as Ontarians with other disabilities (9%), and almost three times higher than Ontarians without disabilities (7.7%). 
  • Many people with disabilities perceive they have been discriminated against in employment, regardless of disability type. A substantially high proportion of people with mental health and substance use disabilities (67.7%) report being disadvantaged at work due to their condition.   

How can this report be used

Highlighting the unique disadvantages faced by people with mental health and substance use issues can help policy makers, researchers, disability groups, and service providers to protect the rights of people with disabilities, including those related to mental health or substance use. 

This report can also be useful for individuals and groups when filing claims at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) or other legal venues. Statistical comparisons can sometimes help to identify discrimination – for example, in systemic discrimination cases.

Finally, this information can provide a baseline for comparison in the future. It can also contribute to Canada’s reporting obligations under the United Nations’ Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. 

Type of study

Statistical profile, survey results  

Contact person/source

Organization:  Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), 180 Dundas Street West, Suite 900, Toronto Ontario, M7A 2R9  

Language

English and French

 

Published March 2016

 

 

 

 

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