A sense of disconnectedness reached epidemic levels as we were socially isolated from our friends and social life. In the last three months, the increased stressors have impacted our mental health and well-being. People are being challenged like never before due to isolation, physical health and substance use concerns, financial and employment uncertainty, and the emotional dialogue around racial equality.
During lockdown, our routines were disrupted. Our perception of time altered and the question, “What day is it?” became common. People lost their jobs and while there is financial support from the government, those of BIPOC and women are being impacted disproportionately.
We see the police inappropriately responding to wellness check calls. The years of underfunding mental health programs has created the situation where untrained police are the front-line for these calls.
One in five people - that’s 20% of the population - have a serious mental health issue. Kids especially have a tough time. The Kids Help Phone reported a 70% increase in phone calls and 51% increase in text messages, an “exponential increase” in discussions around body and eating issues, self-harm, emotional and sexual abuse, and grief; and a decrease in calls or texts on bullying, cyber-bullying or contemplating suicide.
Young people have been in a higher state of distress, of anxiety, and concern of the unknown. At CCEC, we are pleased that our youth are being supported by services of The YES and Red Fox Society through outreach, engagement and connection activities. Chelsea Lake of The YES says, “We know that mental health is an extremely important topic during COVID times, and for teens especially it's important to stay connected, supported and continue to feel a strong sense of self-worth while we're more socially isolated than ever before.” Over the years, we have supported our youth to attend The YES Camps with funds our Members contribute to a Scholarship. We’ve been pleased that youth from Red Fox Society, who are also a Roger Inman Memorial Award recipient, have been able to attend The YES Camps.
However, recently, there has also been an increased number of calls for help coming from adults and seniors. It is reported that upwards of 10% of workers in BC are on stress related leave. In acknowledgement, the federal government has initiated Wellness Together Canada and there are other help and support services available.
At this time, we all need to take care of our friends and family in a way that is balanced with care for ourselves. Helping others cope with their stress, such as providing social support, can also make our communities stronger. We also need to create a “system of care” where we have effective, community-based services for those at risk and their families. They should also be organized into a coordinated network, building meaningful partnerships with families and youth, and addressing their cultural and linguistic needs.
We have an opportunity to build back better. Let’s commit to a Just Recovery.