WELLINGTON COUNTY – The number of Canadians struggling with mental health issues is four times greater this year than in normal years, according to mental health professionals.
The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted everyone in one way or another and according to Helen Fishburn, the chief executive officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo Wellington (CMHAWW), people are struggling.
“Prior to the pandemic we used to have one in five Canadians struggling with a mental health or addiction issue and really through the pandemic it’s really more like four out of five Canadians,” she said.
“And frankly when you look at being disrupted, five out of five of us – every single person – felt a level of disruption.”
CMHA polls show that right now people are feeling significantly more stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, and fearful with everything going on, said Fishburn.
“We know we’ve [overcome a lockdown] before; we can do it again, it’s just a bit tougher right now because we’re tired and there is a lot of COVID fatigue, and a lot of people are feeling hopeless.”
CMHAWW’s help line, Here 24/7, is seeing around 250 calls a day since the beginning of the pandemic – a 30 per cent increase over “normal” years.
These are unprecedented times, said Fishburn, and taking the time to take care of yourself right now should be a priority.
“We want people to take care of their mental health just as much as they take care of their physical health,” she said.
Managing mental health can be as simple as connecting with friends and family via COVID-safe means, participating in activities that bring you joy, focusing on what can be controlled and working on letting go of the things that cannot, she said.
“That’s really hard in a pandemic, where a lot of things are outside of our control, like stay-at-home orders from the government, like what our neighbours do or don’t do related to public health guidelines, what’s happening in your own work place,” said Fishburn.
“Regardless of that, we still have a tremendous amount of things that we can control that will keep us physically well and protected and also mentally well and supported.”
But the biggest piece of advice she has is to reach out for help as soon as you feel you need it because “sometimes people wait too long to reach out formally and they struggle and suffer … for longer than they need to.”
The CMHA help line can be reached at 1-844-437-3247.