Map of Simcoe Muskoka

Mental Health

Mental Health

The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity”. Mental wellness is not only the absence of mental illness, emotional problems or distress; but also includes the ability to enjoy a balanced and flexible life.

The Public Health Agency of Canada defines mental health and well-being as “the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, and act in ways that enhance our ability to enjoy life and deal with the challenges we face. It is a positive sense of emotional and spiritual well-being that respects the importance of culture, equity, social justice, interconnections and personal dignity.” Mental illness represents a range of disorders that affect people’s capacity to function in their day-to-day lives, these conditions affect thoughts, mood and behaviours.

Positive mental health and mental illness are not mutually exclusive concepts, they are part of a continua. People with positive mental health and resilience can experience mental illness, and people with poor mental health do not necessarily experience mental illness.


Image source: Keyes CL. The next steps in the promotion and protection of positive mental health. Can J Nurs Res. 2010; 42(3):17-28.

A 2012 report from the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences states that the health and economic impact of mental health, mental illness and addictions in Ontario are more than 1.5 times that of all cancers, and more than 7 times that of infectious diseases.

Most Ontarians are affected, either directly or indirectly, by mental illness and addiction issues. According to the Mental Health Commission of Canada, one in five Canadians is affected by a mental illness or addiction issue every year. Onset often occurs at a young age and can persist throughout life, with a significant impact on social connections, educational goals and workforce participation. The impact of mental illness and addiction on life expectancy, quality of life and health care utilization is significant—in many cases, more so than with other medical conditions—yet is often under-recognized.” (ICES 2012 – Opening Eyes, Opening Minds).

A recent joint report, Connecting the Dots: How Ontario Public Health Units are Addressing Child and Youth Mental Health released by Public Health Ontario (PHO), the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and Toronto Public Health (TPH), describe current activities that Ontario public health units are undertaking to address and promote mental health in children and youth.

Mental Health and Well-being

Mental health and well-being are influenced by social, environmental and economic factors including the communities where people live and work. These pages describe measures of mental health and well-being:

There are a range of determinants of health, including race, ethnicity, religion, age, sex, gender, sexual orientation, household composition and socio-economic situation that can influence both mental health and mental illness.

Mental Illness

Mental illness is affected by a mix of social, economic, psychological, biological and genetic factors. These pages describe mental and behavioural disorder-related hospitalizations and emergency department visits:

Youth Mental Health

The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit partnered with Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) to survey more than 1,200 Simcoe Muskoka students between grades 7 and 12 as part of the 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey (OSDUHS). OSDUHS covers a range of topics, with a focus on substance use and mental health of students. HealthSTATS pages using OSDUHS data have been created for the following indicators: