Mental health struggles common during pandemic: Canadian health provider

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Calls for more addiction support
Overdose Awareness Manitoba hosted a rally on the steps of the Manitoba Legislature, urging the provincial government to change and add additional supports for people dealing with addictions. Malika Karim reports – Oct 14, 2020

According to a new report from a Canadian mental health service provider, the COVID-19 pandemic has done a real number on people’s mental health.

The new Mental Health Index from Morneau Shepell says Canadians may have seen a slight uptick in their mental health over the summer, but that has since regressed back to the levels seen near the beginning of the pandemic.

“There has been not a small or negligible but a massive decline in mental health of Canadians all across the board,” Morneau Shepell’s Paula Allen told 680 CJOB.

“Anxiety, depression, isolation, all of that.”

The most common concerns outlined in the report are the fear of getting sick and the fear of a loved one dying — but also the financial impacts of the ongoing pandemic.

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“Financial uncertainty is really the top driver. Each month we do what call a driver analysis to really determine what makes a big difference between those who are doing a bit better and those who are not doing quite as well,” said Allen.

“That level of financial uncertainty is a very big deal.”

Their study also shows the change in workplace routine has been detrimental to Canadians’ mental health. And it shows we’re less likely to access physical or mental care now than we were pre-pandemic.

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“People don’t like change, and there’s certain parts of change that have really kind of separated people and their mental health scores are a little bit lower,” said Allen.

“Anybody who has just recently returned to the job site, their scores are declining compared to those who are staying where they were — working from home or working at the work site.”

The impacts of pandemic stress aren’t only mental — some experts have seen physical manifestations as well.

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A Winnipeg dentist told Global News in late September that he was seeing scores of patients coming in with the same complaint — they were all unintentionally grinding their teeth.

“It’s the first time in probably 30 years that I’ve seen a trend — and the only thing I can account it towards is the stress of COVID-19,” said Dr. Ken Hamin of Reflections Dental Centre.
“We’ve seen a huge increase, probably three to four patients a week, coming in and saying, ‘I’ve started clenching or grinding,’ or ‘I’ve got headaches.’”
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A Royal Bank of Canada survey found that 62 per cent of those who are employed or have only recently been laid off rank their mental health as “good,” down from 66 per cent in 2019.When it comes to financial health, that number is much lower — just 45 per cent of respondents say their finances are in “excellent” or “good” shape since the pandemic started.
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Click to play video: 'Dealing with ongoing pandemic-related stress'
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