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'It's important to reach out': Mental health calls up in Alberta during pandemic
EDMONTON -- Alberta is now a month into the COVID-19 pandemic, and as the days pass, the pandemic is increasingly impacting the mental health of many Albertans.
Between the fear of catching the virus, financial concerns and the impact on those who are feeling shut in or removed from friends and loved ones, experts say now more than ever, it’s important to reach out if you need help.
"Your mood is going to be all over the place, you’re not going to be able to focus as well, your memory is going to be a bit off, you’re not going to sleep as well," said psychologist Dr. Ganz Ferrance.
The Canadian Mental Health Association said there has been a five per cent increase in calls to the local distress line in the last month. Topics related to the pandemic account for up to 30 per cent of those calls.
"It’s normal to have issues," said Ferrance, "But it’s important to reach out."
Police are also feeling the impact. Officers often report to mental health calls, but officials say the number of those calls was up 50 per cent in March 2020 compared to March 2019.
"The numbers don’t surprise me that the calls for mental health have gone up," said Sgt. Mike Elliot, President of the Edmonton Police Association.
The Alberta Government has also introduced the Text for Hope program, a free program that sends daily texts to subscribers. The texts are based on cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which are used by therapists to treat anxiety and depression.
To subscribe to the program, text COVID19HOPE to 393939.
With files from CTV News Edmonton's David Ewasuk