Up to 2 million Canadians at risk of pandemic-induced traumatic stress

From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, it was clear that COVID-19 would impact more than just our physical health. With normal life on standby, many people are also suffering from a decline in mental well-being.

According to Health Canada, around a third of Canadians may experience high levels of stress resulting from the pandemic. More alarming, two million will suffer traumatic stress.

And yet even more alarming: a recent IPSOS poll revealed that only one in five Canadians have sought stress relief through support systems.

Part of the problem is that many Canadians don’t know where to turn. Among other factors – stigma, stubbornness, not knowing the symptoms of depression – there remain many challenges to accessing mental health services.

Many of these challenges existed before the pandemic, like a lack of access in rural areas and cost. COVID-19 has only steepened them. Many parts of Canada are still without high-speed Internet access, meaning residents can’t obtain virtual mental health support. And without sufficient publicly paid psychotherapy, more Canadians than ever are financially excluded from sessions.

The Canadian government offers preliminary support for those seeking mental health support through a website. It assures that fear, stress and worry are normal in a crisis and offers at-home tips for taking care of yourself. These range from eating well to meditation, regular exercise, and limiting social media use.

Further support is available through Wellness Together Canada, which offers mental health resources 24/7.