6.7 Million Canadians Suffer from Mental Illness
When Covid-19 first became widely known as a Worldwide Pandemic who knew that this many months later we would all still be trying daily to avoid contact with others including family, friends, co-workers, and the world as we knew it. Who would ever have known the fear of being diagnosed as “positive” could have such a negative connotation? Also who knew the effects of this Pandemic could have such reaching impact including our mental health?
I come from a family where mental health has tentacles that have touched many. Even before Covid -19 I was well aware of words like suicide, mental illness, depression and anxiety. However, due to this pandemic, Covid-19 has made an unprecedented impact on mental health for both youth and adults alike. People are trying to navigate work from home, education from home, socialization from home and they are at their limit. They are missing socialization; they miss their friends, family, colleagues, social outings, special events, holiday gatherings and something as simple as a hug.
Many are suffering from a myriad of symptoms they are having a difficult time to express or understand. If you have ever felt anxious, nervous, depressed, sad, overwhelmed, unable to concentrate, fearful, significant tiredness, low energy or problems sleeping you may be suffering from mental illness. The Mayo Clinic states: A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. Depression is very complicated and there is no one solution or pill that will make it better. The first thing is to recognize these symptoms and understand you are not alone nor is there anything wrong with you.
There are many things that will help people cope with their depression. Connect with peers/family through social media including things like Skype, Zoom, FaceTime, etc. Go for a walk. Even if it is cold outside most days the sun is shining and the air is fresh. I am fortunate to have a dog and I walk him daily. This gives me a new perspective every day. I walk near a school and it gives me joy to hear the children playing outdoors. Others walk and take photos of wildlife and beautiful landscapes they see. Whatever pleases you, the outdoors are very therapeutic. If you need professional help do not delay in seeking it out.
While I tried to research information for this article I found statistics that were reported by the BC Coroner’s office that said the suicide rate has dropped 7% compared to 2019. This is surprising given most articles talk about more anxiety, depression, stress, nervousness and isolation caused by this Pandemic. However, there is a different result in BC:
“There is a very predictable effect whenever there’s a crisis: it’s called the ‘come together effect.’ It’s been seen during floods and hurricanes and wartime,” said University of British Columbia associate professor in suicidology and child psychiatry Dr. Tyler Black.
We see daily acts of kindness and inclusiveness. Our deepest gratitude goes out to all of our front line workers and it is so kind to see as we come together to celebrate them with free meals or cups of coffee or impromptu drive-by parades for them. There are the many students who graduated without the fanfare celebrations and yet they were celebrated with lawn signs and small family events. We see dancing and musical entertainment in the streets as well as exercise or line dancing. Now that winter is here we can still go out and enjoy it by building snowmen or an ice rink in the backyard.
” When life gives you lemons, make lemonade is a proverbial phrase used to encourage optimism and a positive can-do attitude in the face of adversity or misfortune. Lemons suggest sourness or difficulty in life; making lemonade is turning them into something positive or desirable.” -Wikipedia
There are many positive things to take away from this experience. Who knew we could work from home and still be so productive? Our Government introduced several economic incentive programs to assist those who lost their employment or who lost a large amount of their salary. These programs are being extended making it easier on many. Programs to assist the most vulnerable including indigenous and minorities have been included to help.
Vaccines have been developed at unprecedented speed and are being shipped around the world. We are able to see some hope at what may have seemed an endless tunnel and that makes the atmosphere brighter.