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Summary of key findings

Validation of self-rated mental health

Publication: Health Reports 2010:21(3)

Authors: Farah N. Mawani and Heather Gilmour

Data: 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-being

Increasingly, population health surveys are asking respondents to assess their mental health with a single question, but little is known about the association between the question and measures of mental morbidity. This study examines the associations between self-rated mental health (SRMH) and selected measures of mental morbidity in the Canadian population using data from the 2002 Canadian Community Health Survey: Mental Health and Well-being.

In 2002, an estimated 1.7 million Canadians aged 15 or older (7%) rated their mental health as fair or poor.  There were strong positive associations between all mental morbidity measures and SRMH. Gradients in mean SRMH scores and odds of reporting fair/poor mental health were apparent by recency of mental disorders. On the other hand, for every mental morbidity measure, a sizeable percentage of respondents did not perceive their mental health as fair or poor.

Although SRMH cannot be used to monitor trends or investigate etiology of specific morbidities, the strong and consistent association with a wide range of mental morbidity measures make it a potentially useful indicator for monitoring general mental health.

Full article

For more information about this article, contact Heather Gilmour at 1-613-951-2114 (, Health Analysis Division, Statistics Canada.