Only 13% of Canadians are feeling empathetic, down markedly from two years ago
CMHA and UBC release new data on empathy and challenged relationships
Toronto, (ON), May 2, 2022 – Just as Canadians are experiencing pandemic fatigue after two long years, research suggests that Canadians may also be experiencing “empathy fatigue.” The latest survey conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) and UBC researchers, Assessing the Impacts of COVID-19 on Mental Health, shows that feelings of empathy have eroded over the course of the pandemic, with only 13% of Canadians feeling empathetic, down markedly since the onset of the pandemic (from 23%).
Empathy is the ability to understand another’s perspective and feelings.
“The decline in empathy that we are seeing is concerning,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA. “If we are to resolve our conflicts in relationships, in society and globally, we need to understand one another, even when we don’t agree.”
The CMHA/UBC survey also reveals that 37% of Canadians are as worried about lost social connections (37%) and being separated from friends and family (39%) as they are about getting sick with COVID (39%).
CMHA/UBC data released in March 2022 shows that 37% of Canadians have experienced a decline in their mental health since the start of the pandemic.
“The deterioration of social relationships that we see in the data comes at a time when we need each other more than ever,” says Dr. Emily Jenkins, UBC professor who co-led the research.
“Empathy is essential not only for building positive and healthy relationships, but also for reducing divisions between people, and in our communities. And the good news is, it is an emotional response that can be cultivated.”
The release of these data on empathy and strained relationships couldn’t be timelier as it coincides with the 71st annual Mental Health Week, May 2-8, 2022.This year’s theme is the importance of empathy.
Mental Health Week is sponsored by Major Sponsor Beneva as well as The Medicine Shoppe, Workplace Strategies for Mental Health (Canada Life) and Not Myself Today. To get involved, you can:
- Learn more about mental health and empathy at mentalhealthweek.ca
- Share your support on social media by downloading a toolkit and using hashtags #GetReal and #MentalHealthWeek
- Donate to support CMHA mental health programs and services at cmha.ca/donate
- If you or someone you love is struggling, please contact your local CMHA or visit the Government of Canada’s Wellness Together portal. If you are in crisis, please call 1-833-456-4566 toll free in Canada (1-866-277-3553 in Quebec) or dial 911.