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New poll paints bleak picture of British Columbians’ mental health

Click to play video: 'New survey finds pandemic still affecting mental health in B.C.' New survey finds pandemic still affecting mental health in B.C.
A new survey has found that the pandemic is still negatively affecting the mental health of British Columbians, even though vaccines have begun arriving. Linda Aylesworth reports – Jan 29, 2021

British Columbians are experiencing more worry, stress, anxiety, boredom and loneliness compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, according to a new poll.

The survey on mental health, commissioned by Pacific Blue Cross and conducted by Insights West, found nearly half of B.C. residents are reporting their mental health to be worse due to COVID-19.

Only 57 per cent described their mental health as “excellent” or “very good,” compared to 81 per cent before the pandemic.

Click to play video: 'New study finds COVID-19 stress affecting mental and physical health of B.C. nurses' New study finds COVID-19 stress affecting mental and physical health of B.C. nurses
New study finds COVID-19 stress affecting mental and physical health of B.C. nurses – Jan 28, 2021

That 57 per cent has remained the same since last year, despite news vaccines are on the way.

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Of the 815 people sampled, 62 per cent were experiencing more worry, while 60 per cent said they have more stress in their lives.  When it comes to anxiety and boredom, 59 per cent reported an increase.

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Given the social distancing guidelines and rules against mixing households, it’s also not surprising that 53 per cent were feeling more lonely than usual — up 10 per cent from September.

Once again, women and younger residents were feeling these negative emotions more than others, with results roughly 10 points higher than men and older British Columbians.

Read more: 40% of Canadians struggling with mental health, addiction amid coronavirus pandemic: Ipsos

“The pandemic has had a dramatic impact on the mental health and well-being of British Columbians that is proving to be wider reaching than the economic toll that we’ve experienced” said Insights West president Steve Mossop.

“The extent to which B.C. residents are feeling down has been widespread, although it seems that the vaccine is giving people hope that things will improve.”

Results showed 25 per cent thought their mental health will turn around in the next several weeks, and that increased to 42 per cent when the timeframe was extended to include the coming months.

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In addition, nearly half of B.C. residents reported feeling more gratitude than prior to the start of the pandemic.  A much larger proportion were walking more for exercise and many are trying something new, or engaging in activities and hobbies they enjoy.

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UBC study reveals new impact of self-isolation and quarantine on mental health – Nov 18, 2020

Still, there was significant concern people were less likely to seek the outside help of a mental health professional during the pandemic.

There was also a shift away from in-person and towards virtual or online mental health services.

With an increase in people reporting compromised mental health, those services are needed now more than ever.

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