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Mental health stigma could last well beyond pandemic

A lot of progress has been made in breaking the stigma surrounding mental health, but, there may be a bigger battle brewing — one that starts after the pandemic ends.

“The experts have actually predicted what they call the aftershocks of COVID 19,” Sue Phipps, executive director of the Hamilton branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association, told Global News.

“What that means is that all the grief and loss and trauma experienced by people as a result of COVID is going to impact their lives for a very long time.”

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“It has been identified that individuals that have pre-existing mental health and substance use concerns are most impacted, but certainly the general public is experiencing more anxiety and depression.”

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Those thoughts are echoed by Clare Freeman of the Dr. Bob Kemp Hospice in Hamilton, who says the stories of only one person being in the room when a family member dies are heartbreaking.

“There’s going to be deep scars around grief and bereavement particularly,” said Freeman.

“It is traumatic the way that we have to operate under these circumstances. Intellectually, I get it. Emotionally, would I understand it if it were my loved one? It would be hard and there would be a lot of grief.”

Read more: Positive COVID-19 diagnosis can impact mental health: counsellor

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One potential way to deal with that grief? Go for a run.

“Running has been proven to be good for us, mentally, physically and spiritually,” said Don Stanton, founder of the Running Room Canada.

“For those of us who can’t run, walking is also a great option because we get all the same benefits that we get from running.. it just takes us a little longer to do it.”

One of Canada’s most recognizable fitness advocates, Hal Johnson, said his go-to activity is hiking.

“Hiking is easy on the body,” the Body Break star told Global News.

“It’s a great way to get outdoors, and boy… talk about fitness.”

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