The fundamental association between mental health and life satisfaction - results from a 600,000 Canadian participant survey


While mental health is a fundamental aspect of overall health, few studies report on the association between mental health and life satisfaction. A one-item life satisfaction question is often used as a measure in economic and social sciences as an indicator of societal well-being. This study’s objective was to determine how mental health is correlated to life satisfaction in the Canadian population.

Data was obtained from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS), conducted by Statistics Canada. The survey data included questions related to life satisfaction, health, mental health, and other determinants of life satisfaction. Survey responses from over 600,000 participants were analyzed between the years 2003 to 2012. Single questions on self-reported life satisfaction, general health and mental health were included and other selected variables known to be correlated to life satisfaction were analyzed individually and with a multivariate regression model.

Mental health is the variable most strongly associated with life satisfaction. People with poor or fair mental health have particularly low life satisfaction. When all the selected variables are combined, mental health remains the strongest determinant of life satisfaction.

Results from this study show mental health to be the most important determinant of life satisfaction. This association persists even when other variables known to be associated with life satisfaction, such as income, are taken into account. Our study stresses the importance of developing the mental health care system as an essential resource to support healthy and happy Canadians.

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Patrick Lombardo,