Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Lockdowns take toll on Canadians' mental health

Losing sight of the COVID-19 finish line: How more lockdowns, cases blur hope | Global News: Rachael D'Amore:

April 24, 2021 - "After more than a year of isolation, distance and uncertainty, Canadians are maxed out. Vaccines are getting into arms ... but for some, that 'light at the end of the tunnel' touted by politicians and public health officials has dimmed recently....  After [Ontario] Premier Doug Ford’s announcement on April 16 ushering in further closures of amenities and activities, including some outdoors, Ontarians reacted online in a wave of sadness and anger. Some people pointed out that, this time, the 'rage and despair' felt more like a collective emotion than ever before.

"Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto, said the collective feeling comes down to one thing: unpredictability. 'Chronic unpredictable stress,' to be exact. 'When you and I are told that the finish line is there, while we’re under chronic stress, it’s difficult but we try to accommodate it. But when you aren’t confident about where the finish line is, that, by definition, is unpredictable,' he said.... 'It’s the unpredictability that’s becoming the straw breaking the camel’s back for many people'....

"Since last year, Canadians have been told to stay apart to stop the spread of the virus, but the ability to be outdoors has generally provided safer alternatives for exercise, recreation and dining, among other things. Those options dwindled in the winter. As the second wave bore down, cold weather and renewed lockdowns forced people to stay at home. Even with summer on the horizon, those options are once again shrinking.

"The second wave of the pandemic intensified feelings of stress and anxiety, causing alarming levels of despair and hopelessness among Canadians, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) found in December 2020. That trajectory isn’t likely to improve as the country endures the third wave, according to Michael Anhorn, the CEO of the CMHA’s Toronto branch. 'Research has shown a fairly steady decline in mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. The longer it goes on, the more our wellness suffers,' he said.

"During the second wave, 40 per cent of Canadians who participated in a CMHA survey said their mental health has worsened — up from 38 per cent in the first wave. A separate report by HR company Morneau Shepell showed Canadians’ psychological health has steadily declined, hitting a negative score for a 12th consecutive month. That same report said the feeling of isolation is worse now than at any prior point in the pandemic.... Of the Canadians feeling the negative mental health impacts, 45 per cent are women, compared to 34 per cent of men, according to CMHA....

"Canada has maintained it will meet its goal of vaccinating all willing Canadians by September. There has been brighter news in recent days — more doses of Pfizer-BioNTech’s vaccine are coming, eligibility is gradually opening up to all adults in hot-spot areas in Ontario and Canada could see extra shots come from its neighbour the U.S. But recent announcements like Ontario’s — which took away considerably safer activities like camping, tennis and golf — make people think 'the goalposts keep changing,” said McIntyre.... 

"The ultimate goalpost is ending the pandemic. For many Canadians, it’s personal now, McIntyre said, like something as simple as having a normal summer....

"'You have people who will do just fine, they’ll flourish. Then you’ll have this large swath of society who don’t have a mental illness, but they’re not well, they’re tired, fatigued, apathetic. For many of this group, these feelings may be time-limited once our lives get back to normal,' he said. 'But we also know that for a lot of people, this is the first step of going into a depression and that this type of experience can often be a [portent]. We don’t want to catastrophize this because not everyone does, but we also can’t trivialize it.'"

Read more: https://globalnews.ca/news/7773180/covid-canada-mental-health-lockdown/

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