Despite 94% of Manitobans claiming to be compassionate, only 42% took action in the past year to alleviate hardship, states a recent study conducted by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA).

Media Release - May 6, 2024

Canadians are often recognized globally for their compassion and kindness; however, new data may suggest otherwise.

A recent study by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found that while 94% of Manitobans claim to be compassionate, only 42% have taken active steps to alleviate hardship in the past year.

Compassion, defined as the practice of meeting suffering – whether our own or that of others – with kindness, is often confused with empathy.  While empathy involves the sensing, feeling and understanding of another’s experience, compassion goes beyond empathy into the realm of taking action.

“Compassion is the emotional response to the struggles of others combined with a real, authentic desire to help lessen their suffering and respond with care,” says Margaret Eaton, National CEO, CMHA. “With so much hardship going on in the world, compassion is needed now more than ever.”

The survey conducted by Maru Public Opinion found that although the majority 69% (insert regional data) of Manitobans say that when they see someone struggling, they feel compelled to help, 65% admit feeling overwhelmed by the issues and unsure where to begin.

“We’re seeing a lot of people wanting to be more compassionate, but not knowing how. The good news is that compassion is part of our human nature and can be learned and practiced,” explains Eaton. “In fact, giving compassion, receiving compassion, and allowing ourselves to experience self-compassion are all very beneficial to our mental health.”

Demonstrating compassion through caring actions and kindness can positively impact mood and help alleviate feelings of depression.

This is because the act of “giving compassion” is closely connected to the release of oxytocin, a feel-good hormone.

Research also suggests that compassion is contagious.

Experiencing acts of compassion can encourage people to show compassion too, creating a domino effect.

“This Mental Health Week, we also recognize the acts of compassion our community mental health workers across the country offer day in, day out - providing services like mobile mental health crisis response, harm reduction services, housing, and so much more to millions of Canadians,” continues Eaton.

Practicing compassion is fundamental to creating a more just and equitable society. It helps to establish trust, strengthen relationships, and cultivate a sense of community. In fact, 77% of Manitobans think Canada could be a more compassionate country by doing more to help those in need through social support programs and better laws/policies.

Marion Cooper, CEO, CMHA Manitoba and Winnipeg says “In a world where digital connections often overshadow human interactions, let us remember the transformative power of simple acts of kindness and compassion. As we embark on Mental Health Week 2024, let us reconnect to our humanity, fostering genuine connections with one another. These person-to-person interactions are not merely gestures; they are the threads that weave the fabric of our community, nurturing collective well-being and resilience. Together, through our kindness and compassion, we can create a more empathetic and supportive world for all.”

This Maru Public Opinion study commissioned by the Canadian Mental Health Association is from a survey conducted April 4-5, 2024, among a random selection of 1,507 Canadian adults who are Maru Voice Canada online panelists.

The release of this data coincides with CMHA’s 73rd Mental Health Week (May 6-12). This year’s theme “Healing through Compassion” explores how compassion connects us all. To learn more and get involved, visit