Teachers, parents, teens mental health hit hard by COVID-19 pandemic
The ongoing pandemic is having a negative effect on the mental health of working Canadians.
LONDON, ONT. -- A new national study conducted by Mental Health Research Canada has found COVID-19 is having a big impact on stress, anxiety and depression among Canadians.
Dr. David Dozois, a psychology professor at Western University and board member with Mental Health Research Canada says, "Teachers in particular are experiencing a high level of anxiety. Since our earlier polls we've found that anxiety increased from about five to 25 per cent."
Educators have had to adjust to a new way of teaching during the pandemic.
"I think it's been really challenging for folks, our students are being asked to learn alone, and our educators are being asked to teach from home, and a lot of them are parents and caregivers as well," says Andrea Harvey, mental health lead with the Thames Valley District School Board.
The study also found that parents with young kids at home are having a tough time.
About 26 per cent of people indicate that supporting their children in school work at home has had a negative impact on their mental health.
Dozois says the high levels of anxiety and depression reported by Canadians are a serious concern, especially because they are not receiving mental health supports at the same rate as before the pandemic.
Associate professor of Psychiatry at Western University, Dr. Javeed Sukhera says it will be some time before we really know the impacts of the pandemic on mental health, but he adds that COVID-19 is a chronic stressor and its impacting teenagers, who are at a point of transition in their lives.
"Often times when you are young, you don't have the same reference points that you do as adults, so it's harder to imagine, and everything feels like it's forever, so we are seeing a lot of young people in despair with increased anxiety," said Sukhera.
He says it's important to be kind to yourself during the pandemic, because we are all collectively experiencing this together.
"Asking for help is actually the strongest, most courageous thing that we can do. And whether it's talking to someone you are close to and you trust, or talking to a stranger who works in the system, we are apart of a community that has to step up, rise up, and create the kind of community where people are comfortable to talk."
Harvey agrees, saying it's important to 'normalize' the conversation.
"Let's talk about mental health and well-being, let's dig our heels in and have good conversation and address stigma."
Thursday marks the 11th annual Bell Let’s Talk Day a national conversation around mental health.
Since the first Bell Let’s Talk Day in 2011, Canadians and people around the world have sent a total of more than 1.1 billion messages of support for mental health, bringing Bell’s total funding commitment to over $113 million.
This year, Bell will donate five cents every time someone engages on social media, sends a text messages or makes a call on Jan. 28.