WELLINGTON COUNTY – May 3 to 9 is the 70th annual Mental Health Week.
And according to Helen Fishburn, CEO of Canadian Mental Health Association Waterloo-Wellington (CMHAWW), due to the impact of COVID-19, “this is the most important mental health week in our history.”
The CMHA and University of British Columbia (UBC) researchers recently released data that shows 41 per cent of Canadians report a decline in mental health since the pandemic.
That figure was 38% in the spring, and 40% last fall.
Also, 77% of adults report feeling negative emotions because of COVID-19.
“While it’s discouraging to think that so many Canadians are feeling upset, difficult emotions may actually be an appropriate response to a major event like a global pandemic,” said Margaret Eaton, National CEO of CMHA in a press release for Mental Health Week.
CMHA officials say Mental Health Week aims to “promote the importance of emotions and the role that understanding them plays in good mental health.”
The mental health statistics are national, but “locally we are seeing the exact same thing,” said Fishburn, adding the data is a warning about the growing issue of mental health in the pandemic.
In response to need, CMHA has increased its staffing and is taking phone calls 24 hours a day.
“We’ve also had to change the way we’re reaching people in this pandemic,” Fishburn added.
There are more webinars and online resources, with a website dedicated to COVID-19 support (here4help.ca).
For Mental Health Week CMHA is running daily webinars.
The CMHA and UBC statistics also show that 79% percent of Canadians say they are coping fairly well with pandemic stress.
The press release listed various coping skills that help with their mental health: 51% are exercising, 43% connecting with people virtually, 40% keeping a healthy lifestyle, 37% having hobbies, and 38% keeping up to date with relevant information.
Fishburn said the community has really worked on developing coping skills.
“Mental Health Week couldn’t be at a better time,” said Fishburn.