The Influx of Depression & Anxiety
With widespread restrictions on social gatherings, school closures, and a general sense of uncertainty and fear caused by Covid-19, many individuals are experiencing increased levels of depression and anxiety. As Licensed Therapists, we are just starting to see the aftereffects that Covid-19 has caused an influx of depression and anxiety at home here in New Brunswick and the rest of Canada.
I will also highlight how we, at Kingsway Counselling, have pivoted according to this influx in hopes of responding to the increase in mental health demands caused by Covid-19.
The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound global impact on mental health. In a May 2020 Statistic Canada report, half of Canadians disclosed feeling like their mental health was worsening, and 10% said that their mental health deteriorated with the enforcement of physical distancing. Among Canadians who screened positive for a mental health disorder (i.e. anxiety, depression, etc.), 94% disclosed being negatively impacted by the pandemic.
Data on the impacts of Covid-19 on New Brunswickers’ mental health is quite significant as well. Prior to the pandemic, ¼ of New Brunswickers experienced issues with their mental health (i.e. anxiety and depression). Two years later, New Brunswickers have reported that mental health struggles and/or substance use has increased for either themselves, a family member or friend.
One of the most significant ways in which Covid-19 has impacted mental health is through social isolation. With many individuals working from home and avoiding public spaces, there has been a significant decrease in social interaction. For many people, social connection is crucial for maintaining mental health, and the lack of social support can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation. This is particularly true for older adults, who may already be at risk for social isolation due to factors such as mobility limitations or the loss of a spouse or close friends.
In addition to social isolation, the pandemic has also caused financial stress for many individuals and families. With businesses closing and job losses, financial insecurity has become a significant concern. Financial stress can cause significant anxiety and depression, and the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic has only exacerbated these feelings.
The Affect on Students
For students, the pandemic has caused significant disruptions to their academic and social lives. With schools closing and a switch to online learning, many students have struggled to adjust. The loss of in-person interactions with peers and teachers can lead to feelings of loneliness and disconnection, and the challenges of online learning can lead to increased levels of anxiety and stress.
Healthcare Workers – Stress and Burnout
For healthcare workers, the pandemic has caused unprecedented levels of stress and burnout. Healthcare workers have been on the front lines of the pandemic, working tirelessly to care for patients and prevent the spread of the virus. The fear of contracting the virus and spreading it to family members, along with the constant exposure to illness and death, can cause significant mental health challenges for healthcare workers.
Overall, the pandemic has had a significant impact on mental health in New Brunswick, affecting people of all ages. The stress and uncertainty surrounding the pandemic have led to increased levels of depression and anxiety, and the lack of social interaction has only exacerbated these feelings. Financial stress, academic disruptions, and healthcare worker burnout have also contributed to mental health challenges in the province.
On the positive side, we can help individuals and communities cope with the challenges of the pandemic and emerge stronger and more resilient. As highlighted by Canada’s former Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, Carolyn Bennett, “With COVID, people have gotten better about admitting when they’re struggling,”. Bennett explains, “If even one of every two people can speak up when their mental health is deteriorating, it will reduce the stigma and we’ll be in a much better position to address the issues long term.”
Steps to Improve Mental Health
It is crucial that we take steps to address the mental health impacts of the pandemic. This includes providing access to mental health services and resources, promoting social connection, and addressing financial insecurity. For older adults, this may mean providing safe ways to connect with others – whether in-person or virtually, such as online social groups or outdoor activities. For students, this may mean providing additional academic support and opportunities for social interaction, such as school lunch clubs or virtual events. For healthcare workers, this may mean providing additional support and resources to address burnout and stress.
It is essential that we recognize the mental health impacts of the pandemic and take action to address them. As mentioned earlier, we can emerge stronger and more resilient than ever. Imagine a world with no stigma on mental health, where talking to a therapist is strength.
The more our community openly talks about therapy and is open to come seeing a therapist, the quicker the stigma will dissolve. This can turn someone’s life around and start a path to healing and growth. It can even save someone’s life.
What we are doing at Kingsway Counselling
Kingsway Counselling is here to respond to the increase in mental health demands in New Brunswick. We have recently added a new office in Saint John with 3 new team members, all of which specialize in depression and anxiety therapy.
Our hope is that by pivoting our mental health clinic in these ways, we increase access to and bring a higher quality of mental health care for all New Brunswickers.