The COVID-19 pandemic is an added layer of anxiety and stress for many, but it also has many reaching out for help.
In late March, the province launched an online program with Canadian HR firm Morneau Shepell, aimed at providing support for Manitobans struggling with anxiety and depression related to COVID-19.
Since then, 3,460 Manitobans have used the service, according to a provincial spokesperson.
“I can tell you that number has been steadily growing,” Manitoba health minister Cameron Friesen said during a press conference Tuesday.
“None of us are untouched by this. There (are) the challenges of COVID-19 that we can see and they’re tangible in our every day lives, but the mental health challenges and our anxiety is no less real even though it is more invisible.”
Anxiety related to COVID-19 may also be affecting some more than others, according to the Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba.
“We’ve seen that COVID-related anxiety and depression has increased by a significant number in the whole world really right now, and disproportionately women and youth are being affected by this,” said Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba program administrator Eileen McDonald.
McDonald says that young people ages 15 to 24 are more likely to experience mental illness under substances abuse, and women are twice as likely as men to struggle with mental health disorders.
She also says the start of the school year may be creating additional anxiety.
“It’s good in a way for kids to get more socialized in school,” McDonald said. “But it is a very scary thing going into a school with all masks on and all these new rules and protocols, so we are seeing a lot of high-related anxiety with the pandemic.”