There’s an aspect to the social isolation and physical distancing that’s been touched on during this COVID-19 pandemic, but has rarely been the focus of concern - and that’s the impact on mental health.
Health care providers are well aware of the convergence of events, a perfect storm that has put pressure not only on family relationships, but on individual ability to cope in this crisis.
Dr. Charles Gardner, medical officer of health for Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit, said he is concerned about people's mental health during this pandemic, not only due to the stress a state of emergency can bring, but also the danger of isolation.
"This is unprecedented, this kind of restriction on the world," said Gardner. "To have people confined in this way, a whole population, for such a long time is unprecedented ... undoubtedly, it will be hard on us."
There are online resources available during these days of physical distancing and social isolation.
Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) offers a number of free online mental health supports, including Big White Wall Mental Health Support (click here) - a virtual care solution available without referrals, and BounceBack, mental health coaching to cope with symptoms of depression and anxiety.
CAMH (Centre for Addiction and Mental Health) has a special section on COVID-19: Mental health and well-being) specifically geared toward public and health Care workers, with tips and coping strategies.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is offering extensive resources and links on its website, specifically related to COVID-19, as well as a reminder that in crisis, residents can call 1-833-456-4566 or visit CrisisServicesCanada.
The Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit has a COVID-19 section that includes a list of mental health supports to children and youth (including the Kids Help Phone) and adults; click here for information.
The key, all say, is building resilience: finding the connections and the supports that help build a more positive outlook, and break down the barriers created by isolation.
- With files from Erika Engel