Pandemic Within A Pandemic: Most Believe There Is A Mental Health Pandemic In Canada

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As Canada joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and countries around the globe in recognizing World Mental Health Day on October 10, a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences (Ontario Shores) has revealed a majority of Canadians believe we are in the midst of a new pandemic.

The global pandemic called on March 11, 2020 as a result of COVID-19 has brought national media attention to physical healthcare needs of Canadians. Meanwhile, amid physical distancing, isolation protocols and lockdown measures, the mental health of Canadians has been negatively impacted. According to the study, 28 per cent of Canadians admit their mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic, while 69 per cent believe Canada is currently experiencing a mental health pandemic.

“To know Canadians are suffering from a mental health standpoint is heartbreaking, but, unfortunately, not surprising,” notes Karim Mamdani, President and CEO of Ontario Shores, a specialty mental health hospital which has been treating mental illness for more than a century.

“This should serve as a warning for policy and decision-makers that the demands for mental health services will continue to increase at an alarming rate as we continue living through the COVID-19 pandemic and long after it is over.”

Canada is not alone in this discovery. According to WHO, the pandemic is increasing demand for mental health services around the world. Bereavement, isolation, loss of income and fear are triggering mental health conditions or exacerbating existing ones. Many people may be facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety.

“Ontario Shores, like so many other mental healthcare providers has witnessed an increased demand for services over the last 18 months,” says Mamdani. “We believe this is just the beginning and even greater pressure to support the mental health of the communities we serve is right around the corner.”

In addition to decreasing mental health, many Canadians are concerned they will not be able to easily access care should they need help managing their mental health. The study found that two-thirds (66 per cent) of Canadians believe there are not enough mental health services and supports available in their local community.

“Confidence in knowing you can access quality mental health care within your own community will encourage people to reach out for help early in their journey with mental illness,” says Lori Lane-Murphy, a speaker, writer and mental health advocate who lives with Bipolar II Disorder. “When you are struggling with your mental health, any barrier is too big a barrier. Being able to access care when you need it will help Canadians manage their mental health and help them live meaningful lives.”

SOURCE Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences

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