The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 destroys the lungs in some that are infected, but it is certainly wreaking havoc on the mental health of virtually everyone, whether they touch them or not.
Whether you are on the front lines of a hospital, nursing home or supermarket, or stay out – doing your part by staying at home – this pandemic is causing widespread anxiety, fear and dread.
People are afraid of the disease and what it could mean for them or their loved ones, but also to lose their jobs and pay the bills, and when, if ever, life will return to normal.
Like this virus, struggles with mental health affect people of all ages, education, income levels and cultures around the world.
Many Canadians, estimated to be one in five in a given year, personally experience a mental health problem or illness. About 8% of adults experience major depression at some point in their lives.
Mark Henick is a mental health advocate, speaker and strategist who is concerned that once the virus emerges, it can be followed by "a kind of pandemic echo of depression and anxiety and potentially even suicide" in the middle of "carnage" that this virus left behind, "he told CTV News medical correspondent Avis Favaro.
Why we chose suicide Henick's Tedx Talk is among the most watched in the world, with over 6 million views. And his successful search to find the man who saved him during a suicide attempt when Henick was a teenager was a viral story.
But now the married father of three is living with the financial devastation of this pandemic, as are millions of untold people.
“Over the course of three days last week, I had all the events that were scheduled and hired to cancel in the next six months. So, you know, for me to have essentially all my livelihood taken from me within a few days was also very tiring for my own mental health. "
Michelle Garvey of Peterborough, Ontario. she overcame depression and anxiety by studying to become a dependency counselor and social services worker. But she worries that, with her classes canceled and her hectic routine, she may experience a relapse of her symptoms.
"It has shaken many things for me," she said.
“Going back to school for me was something that provided the structure in my day and a new meaning for getting out and moving. So, I need to continue having structure in my days so as not to return to the old habits. "
Garvey said he is reaching out to loved ones and practicing mindfulness and gratitude for trying to deal with it.
The rapid spread of this pandemic has given little chance of preparing for, or even prosecuting, everything that has happened in terms of job loss and full recovery from everyday life and relationships, says Dr. Roger McIntyre, a psychiatrist and professor at the University of Toronto.
“You lose your job overnight, you lose the security of your paycheck overnight. This is an insult to your mental health and well-being, ”he said.
"And we already know that being at work is not just a place to get out of a paycheque, but it is often a very important source of interpersonal connection."
The immediate consequences may manifest itself in rising rates of addiction and depression, but McIntyre is particularly concerned about the long-term effects of the economic impact of this pandemic.
"Why I find this scary is that we know from a wide body of scientific literature that there is a close relationship between so-called macroeconomic indicators, such as unemployment and employment, mental health and suicide."
In fact, research on the Great Depression and other economic crises found that a 1% increase in the unemployment rate resulted in a 1% increase in the suicide rate.
“This is not just a medical threat. This is an economic and financial threat that will have incredible effects on people's mental health. "
The solutions need to be thought of while we are still looking for protection against the virus itself, says McIntyre.
The priority must be to get people back to work as quickly as possible and to inject resources to help people in danger.
Henick is also concerned with "accumulated downstream risk factors" if vulnerable people do not get the long-term support they need from their owners, employers, governments and banks.
“When everything is over, say six months from now, and they are hit suddenly with large interest payments accumulated on their debts, this will put them in a worse position than before, and we know that financial struggles are one of the main stressors that negatively affect the mental health of people across Canada. "
The Center for Addiction and Mental Health offers a variety of frequently asked questions, self-assessment tools and cheat sheets here.
Canadian Mental Health Association (CAMH) offers some tips to keep mentally well in these difficult times.
Canadian Department of National Defense also offers some useful tips.
World Health Organization (WHO) on how to deal with stress during COVID-19.
WHO in helping children cope with stress during COVID-19.
Canada Mental Health Commission: COVID-19 anxiety management tips
Provincial and territorial resources
Alberta Health Services Program Text4Hope: a free service that provides three months of daily text messages based on cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) written by mental health therapists.
Recovering: Free phone support for mental health with a coach and online videos
Great white wall: Free online 24/7 peer-to-peer mental health support network for Ontarians over 16
Toronto professor creates free online course manage mental health during a secret crisis
Psychotherapist Karen Dougherty created Ontario COVID-1 therapists offer free therapy to frontline healthcare professionals
The government of Manitoba launches a free online counseling program to help people suffering from anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic
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