Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS)

Detailed information for February 2022





Record number:


The Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS) collects information about the mental health status of Canadians, as well as their access to and need for services and supports, whether formal or informal. This survey also intends to assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population health as well as evaluate changes in patterns of mental health, service use and functioning in the last ten years.

Data release - To be determined


The objectives of the Mental Health and Access to Care Survey are:

(1) To assess the mental health status of Canadians on both illness and positive mental health continuums through selected mental and substance disorders, mental health problems, and well-being;
(2) To assess the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on population health by evaluating changes in patterns of mental health, service use and functioning since the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey;
(3) To assess timely, adequate, and appropriate access to and utilization of formal and informal mental health services and supports as well as perceived needs;
(4) To assess functioning, ability and disability in relation to mental health and illness; and
(5) To examine links between mental health and social, demographic, geographic, and economic variables or characteristics (covariates) including health behaviours, health conditions, and childhood experiences.

The data collected from the survey will be used by Statistics Canada, Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, federal and provincial departments, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, the Institut de la statistique du Québec, as well as universities, pharmaceutical companies, and mental health services and support providers to fill data gaps in understanding mental health. Policy makers and researchers will use this information to develop policies and programs that properly meet the mental health needs of Canada's population. The media's use of this information will help raise general awareness about mental health, an issue of concern to all.

Reference period: Varies


  • Health
  • Health care services
  • Lifestyle and social conditions
  • Mental health and well-being
  • Prevention and detection of disease

Data sources and methodology

Target population

The Mental Health and Access to Care Survey (MHACS) covers the population 15 years of age and over as of March 1, 2022 living in the ten provinces. Excluded from the survey's coverage are: persons living on reserves and other Aboriginal settlements, full-time members of the Canadian Forces, and persons living in collective dwellings, such as institutional residences.

Instrument design

This survey is a repeat of the 2012 Canadian Community Health Survey on Mental Health (CCHS-Mental Health). In contrast to the 2002 and 2012 iterations of the CCHS-Mental Health, which were administered in-person, the 2022 MHACS is administered by computer-assisted telephone interviews (CATI) due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey has been shortened to 50 minutes rather than one hour to reduce response burden. Additionally, content has been updated to reflect the novel objective of evaluating change in mental health status and service use before and during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The CCHS-Mental Health questionnaire was developed by Statistics Canada in collaboration with stakeholders from Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Provincial Health Ministries, an expert advisory group consisting of specialists from Health Canada, the Public Health Agency of Canada, the Mental Health Commission of Canada, and academic experts.
Content was chosen using the following criteria:
- Data gaps identified by stakeholder consultations
- Significant number of people affected by the targeted issue
- Significant impact on family, community, and health care costs
- Issues identified as priority for the support/development of programs and policy, surveillance requirements and/or research
- Comparability with previous cycle of CCHS-Mental Health

Because the majority of content was previously administered in 2012, qualitative testing of new content was not undertaken. However, for the 2012 iteration of the CCHS-Mental Health in collaboration with Statistics Canada's Questionnaire Design Resource Centre, the questionnaire was subjected to two phases of qualitative testing, which took place in March and July of 2010 and consisted of one-on-one interviews. The objective was to evaluate respondent reactions to and understanding of the survey, as well as their willingness to respond to the questions. The qualitative testing was also used to obtain time estimates for the various sections of the questionnaire.

A pilot survey was conducted in April 2011. The pilot survey for the CCHS-Mental Health tested survey content, methodology, computer applications, interviewer procedures, reference material and data processing techniques in preparation for the main survey collection.


This is a sample survey with a cross-sectional design.

Sample Size and Allocation

Based on the methodological assumptions of the survey (such as the targeted response rate), it was determined that a sample size of 40,000 was sufficient to produce reliable estimates at the national level. The target population was stratified by age group (15-24, 25-44, 45-64, and 65+), by gender (Female, Male) and by population group (South Asian, Black, Chinese, Filipino, and Other) to ensure a representative sample.

Sample Design

The stratification of the population facilitated the oversampling of people identifying with population groups designated as visible minority (South Asian, Black, Chinese, Filipino) and ensured having enough respondents within specified age and gender groups. The purpose of this stratification was to collect data from a sufficient number of individuals to allow for relevant analyses at the level of these population subgroups. To help achieve precision targets for these subpopulations, the set of respondents to the 2021 Census long questionnaire was used as a sampling frame. This allowed the identification and selection of targeted individuals from these groups, which is much more efficient than selecting dwellings in the general population.

Data sources

Data collection for this reference period: 2022-03-17 to 2022-07-31

Responding to this survey is voluntary.

Data are collected using computer-assisted telephone interviewing (CATI).

View the Questionnaire(s) and reporting guide(s) .

Error detection

The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.


The metadata will be provided upon release.

Quality evaluation

The metadata will be provided upon release.

Disclosure control

Statistics Canada is prohibited by law from releasing any information it collects which could identify any person, business, or organization, unless consent has been given by the respondent or as permitted by the Statistics Act. Various confidentiality rules are applied to all data that are released or published to prevent the publication or disclosure of any information deemed confidential. If necessary, data are suppressed to prevent direct or residual disclosure of identifiable data.

Revisions and seasonal adjustment

The metadata will be provided upon release.

Data accuracy

The metadata will be provided upon release.

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