COVID-19 is causing increased stress and anxiety

By The IJ Staff | December 03 2020 02:21PM

Photo: Freepik | shurkin_son

The second wave of the pandemic has intensified feelings of stress and anxiety, causing alarming levels of despair, suicidal thoughts and hopelessness in the Canadian population, according to a study by the Canadian Mental Health Association.

The study, in partnership with UBC researchers, found that some 40 per cent of Canadians say their mental health has deteriorated since March, with the decline more pronounced in those who are unemployed (61 per cent), those with a pre-existing mental health issue (61 per cent), younger people aged 18-24 (60 per cent), Indigenous peoples (54 per cent), those who identify as LGBTQ2+ (54 per cent) and those with a disability (50 per cent). Almost half of women and a third of men say their mental health has declined.

People fear things will get worse

"Cold weather, uncertainty, eroded social networks and restrictions on holiday gatherings are hitting at a time when people are already anxious, hopeless and fearful that things are going to get worse," says CMHA's National CEO, Margaret Eaton.

Of great concern is the sharp increase in suicidality this fall, with one in 10 Canadians experiencing recent thoughts or feelings of suicide, up from six per cent in the spring and 2.5 per cent throughout pre-pandemic 2016.

About 39 per cent of Canadians are worried about finances, with half of parents with children under 18 and those with a household income of less than $25,000 (51 per cent) reporting financial concerns due to COVID-19.

Accessing mental health programs has been difficult with lengthy wait times partly due to a chronic underfunding of community-based mental health services and a reliance on intensive, high-cost services like hospitals and acute care.

“If we fund community-level interventions, this will alleviate pressure on an acute-care system already hit hard by COVID-19 – and get people the help they need sooner," says Eaton.

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