Mental health worsening, tougher to treat since start of pandemic: advocates
EDMONTON -- Nearly a quarter of Canadians have felt their mental health decline since the first wave of the pandemic in March, a recent survey found – and some fear it won’t be better for a while.
From the pandemic, to the isolation required to keep COVID-19 at bay, to an economic decline and even changing seasons, mental health advocates say it’s never been tougher to effectively manage their mental wellbeing.
“Everything that was already there was all just exponentially so much worse,” Karly Watson told CTV News Edmonton.
According to the Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies poll, 24 per cent of participants have seen their stress levels worsen since the spring. More than half, 54 per cent, reported it being same, and 24 per cent reported their mental health had improved since the first wave.
Canadians said they had the most anxiety over when the pandemic would end, how bad it would get, being unable to socialize, and concern for the health of family and friends.
To make matters worse, many who use therapy feel the treatment isn’t as effective online or over the phone.
“It’s just not the same,” another advocate, Jennifer Hope, commented.
“You don’t get the same personal one-on-one feeling of those emotions involved. So it’s almost disconnected.”
A University of Alberta psychiatric professor says self-care – things like socializing within cohorts and exercise – can mitigate the pandemic’s effect, but that it’s important to be aware of signs that yourself or others may need professional guidance.
“These stressor are not only going to continue, but they’ll likely get worse over the next few months,” Dr. Peter Silverstone told CTV News Edmonton.
“If you say, ‘How are you doing?’ and they pause – recognize it as something that might need further help.”
Watson echoed the advice: “Everybody deserves help with their mental health and there is no title of ‘sick enough’.”
For her, using medication, being open about her struggles, and allowing herself to rely on professionals and her support network has made “all the difference.”
Hope added, “It’s hard right now being stuck inside, but there’s still people willing to listen.”
If you or someone you know is in crisis, here are some resources that are available:
- Canada Suicide Prevention Helpline (1-833-456-4566)
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (1 800 463-2338)
- Crisis Services Canada (1-833-456-4566 or text 45645)
- Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868)
If you need immediate assistance call 911 or go to the nearest hospital.
Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies surveyed 1,512 Canadians online between Oct. 16 and 18, all of whom were 18 years or older and randomly selected from LEO’s online panel. It’s estimated the poll has a margin of error +/- 2.52%, 19 times out of 20.
With files from CTV News Edmonton’s Carlyle Fiset