Mental Health: When You Need Extra Help

Mental health problems rarely stay in one place. If we catch them early, they often improve. If we wait too long, they can easily get worse and turn into a true mental health disorder, like anxiety or depression.

Mental health problems and substance use also feed into each other: having a mental illness doubles the risk of having a substance use problem, and people with substance use problems are three times as likely to have a mental illness.21

Mental health and substance use disorders are common­ and not to be taken lightly. Consider these facts:2-1 25


  • In any given year, 1 in 5 Canadians experiences a mental illness or addiction.
  • By age 40, about half of Canadians have had (or still have) a mental illness.
  • About 4.6% of Canadians have an anxiety disorder, while 5.4% have major depression.
  • Over a lifetime, about 18% of Canadians meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (the most common substance use disorder).


  • Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada.
  • People with mental illness and substance use disorders are more likely to die early.
  • Tobacco is the leading cause of premature death, responsible for 17% of cases.
  • Depression reduces cognitive (thinking) performance on the job about 35% of the time.

Recognizing when you need extra help can make all the dif­ference. Reach out to a health professional if you experience symptoms like these2:5

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Difficulty carrying out daily activities
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Changes in eating patterns, sleep habits, or sex drive
  • Overuse of substances
  • Physical symptoms without obvious cause (such as headaches or stomach aches)
  • Thoughts about self-harm

Such symptoms could signal depression or anxiety. Talk to your doctor to learn more. Once you have a diagnosis, you and your doctor can lay out a treatment plan, which in most cases will in­clude talk therapy and/or medication. In fact, research suggests that combining therapy and medication has the strongest and most lasting effect for both depression and anxiety.26

Don’t hesitate to use your London Drugs pharmacist as a resource. Your pharmacist can provide general guidance on mental health and substance use, help you navigate the healthcare system, and connect you to community resourc­es. If you start a medication for a mental health disorder, your pharmacist can answer your questions about the drug and help you manage side effects.

Bouncing Back: A self-help program for people with mental health problems

if you have anxiety or depression – or if you’re simply feeling low, worried or stressed, a free self-help program called BounceBack ( may help you gain new skills to boost your mental health. Developed by the Canadian Mental Health Association and available to everyone over 15, the program provides skill-building workbooks and online videos, as well as telephone coaching if you get a referral from a health professional.


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