The use of mental health services in Ontario: epidemiologic findings

Can J Psychiatry. 1996 Nov;41(9):572-7. doi: 10.1177/070674379604100905.


Objective: To describe the distribution and predictors of mental health service use for a survey of Ontario household residents aged 15 to 64 years.

Method: Service use was defined as any past-year contact with formal or informal health care providers for mental health reasons. Data from the Mental Health Supplement (the Supplement) to the Ontario Mental Health Survey were used to compare the sociodemographic, geographic, and diagnostic status characteristics of service users with these characteristics among nonusers.

Results: Mental health services were used by 7.8% of respondents in the past year. The majority (57.8%) had a past-year University of Michigan Composite International Diagnostic Interview (UM-CIDI) diagnosis, although 27.1% had never met diagnostic criteria. Other significant predictors were marital status, household public assistance, gender, age, and urban/rural residence.

Conclusion: Although diagnosis is the strongest predictor of use, the fit between "need" and "care" in Ontario is not perfect. Help seeking differs within specific sociodemographic and geographic groups. Furthermore, the association of marital disruption and economic disadvantage with utilization indicates that prevention and intervention should address needs beyond the medical or psychological.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis*
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Health Services / statistics & numerical data*
  • Middle Aged
  • Ontario / epidemiology
  • Rural Population
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Urban Population