Psychological distress during the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is a recent and ongoing world-wide sanitary crisis, however we already have access to data on its mental health impacts on people in Quebec, in the rest of Canada (Angus Reid Institute, 2020Blouin-Genest, et al., 2020), and elsewhere in the world (Nelson et al,. 2020Rajkumar, 2020). These impacts can also be felt by health and social service workers in Quebec (INESSS, 2020). These studies focus mainly on the development of mental health problems related to COVID-19 (e.g., psychological distress, anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress). However, very few studies are currently interested in the levels of positive mental health (i.e., wellbeing) in Quebec during this pandemic.

Positive mental health in the time of coronavirus: Current situation in Quebec and recommendations. 

This research project aims to:

  1. Describe the present situation regarding the positive mental health of the Quebec population aged 18 and over, during the current pandemic, in relation to various social determinants of mental health through an online survey  
  2. Develop strategies to improve populational mental health. More precisely, we aim to  :
    • Develop strategies to improve mental health by reinforcing factors related to higher levels of positive mental health;
    • Develop strategies to decrease risk factors associated with lower levels of positive mental health.

Why focus on positive mental health ?

The Public Health Agency of Canada  defines mental health as a positive concept. It is "the capacity of each and all of us to feel, think, 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". In other words, positive mental health refers to wellbeing.

Thus, mental health does not refer simply to the absence of a mental illness. A person can live with a mental illness while also presenting positive mental health. One does not exclude the other. This is a more global view of mental health in which mental illness and positive mental health, although interrelated, are two distinct concepts (Keyes, 2002). This is why it is important to document the impacts of COVID-19 on both positive mental health and mental illness.