LONDON, ONT. -- Mental health professionals anticipate a spike in cases of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), but are seeing cases of Pre-TSD right now in front-line healthcare workers.

“There’s a surge that many had been anticipating, that hadn’t quite hit us in Canada the same way that it’s hit in other jurisdictions like New York City and Italy. So there’s this anticipatory anxiety,” says Dr. Javeed Sukhera, the president of the Ontario Psychiatric Association.

Pre-TSD stems from various triggers, like the lack of personal protection equipment to the danger to family and friends, Sukhera says, “There’s anxiety related to, 'Will I somehow pass this on to people I care for and people that I love?'”

Executive director of Daya Counselling, Rebecca Machado is seeing an increase of people seeking coping exercises, as the pandemic is now affecting the general public in a very real way.

“Socially speaking, certainly financially for many people, and just a cumulative effect of if we’re being confined in small spaces away from our routines, away from our healthy coping strategies. The longer that goes on the harder it becomes to keep drawing on some inner battery.”

Lori Hassal, director of Crisis and Short Term Interventions at Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Middlesex, is seeing a sharp rise in calls to the crisis hotline.

“We’re up 50 per cent over the last three weeks.” She adds that ‘Pre-TSD’ is real for many people, as anxiety and tension grows the longer people are secluded.

“Just that sense of waiting for the other shoe to drop, which can be really challenging because sometimes in our mind we can imagine things to be really catastrophic.”

Sukhera anticipates a large effort will be needed after the crisis ends and funding will have to be directed to mental health.

“We need to have the infrastructure in order to support both health workers as well as other essential workers and general members of society who will need support and access to professional help.”