The Burden of Brain Disorders

The rising prevalence and mounting economic burden of brain disorders pose a large and growing threat to the health of Ontarians and the province’s economic prosperity. Approximately one million Ontarians suffer from a brain disorder and 2.6 million will be affected in their lifetime. Brain disorders include a wide range of conditions that emerge at various life stages, each having a different prevalence. Strikingly, brain disorders account for roughly a third of total years lost to death and disability from all diseases in Ontario, more than the combined number for cancer and cardiovascular disease. Unfortunately, this dire situation is poised to worsen, as the prevalence of certain brain disorders is expected to climb over the coming decades.
Measuring the economic burden associated with this rising prevalence of disease is often difficult. It not only includes direct healthcare costs but also the indirect and opportunity costs of work missed by patients or their informal caregivers, respectively. Nevertheless, such calculations provide a sense of the enormous costs associated with individual brain disorders, which range from tens of millions to billions of dollars a year.

Patient Impact

  • 1 in 3 Canadians will suffer from a brain disorder in their lifetime (ref.)
  • Brain conditions are the leading cause of health disability (ref.)
  • Most brain disorders affect people regardless of race, sex, socioeconomic status, or where you live
  • Ontario spends an estimated $39B/yr on the direct and indirect costs of mental illness and addictions alone – just a fraction of the overall cost of all brain disorder (ref.)


Opening Eyes, Opening Minds: The Ontario Burden of Mental Illness and Addictions Report