The annual mayor’s event for mental health discussed mental health in the wake of COVID-19

If the pandemic has taught us anything in the last 18 months, it is that mental health is health.

“The pandemic has been the great equalizer for us,” Helen Fishburn, CEO of the Canadian Mental Health Waterloo Wellington, said at the annual Mayor’s Event for Mental Health.

“It’s really created that compassion and empathy because now people really understand what it feels like to be anxious, depressed, overwhelmed, deeply fearful.”

Fishburn said the pandemic really opened up the conversation around mental health and the community has in turn, embraced it. 

The Mayor’s Event for Mental Health has been an annual tradition kicked off by late mayor Joe Young in 2000. It has been hosted by the mayor in office every year ever since, coinciding with World Mental Health Day. This year, the topic was The Path Forward: Mental Health in the Wake of COVID-19 and was held virtually and moderated by mayor Cam Guthrie. 

Dr. Anne-Marie Zajdlik has been battling COVID head-on, working at the COVID assessment centre and keeping the community at ease through her posts on Facebook. She said recently at her practice she’s had more calls than ever from people who are struggling with anxiety and depression and tremendous stressors because life has continued on during the pandemic. 

“I’ve had calls with patients who have never experienced anxiety and depression before, but they’re calling now and they’re shocked because they don’t understand how they feel. They don’t understand why the anxiety is there, why the depression is there, why it was so sudden onset, why they’re suddenly unable to cope and how far reaching their anxiety and depression symptoms are, how disabling they are,” said Zajdlik. 

Fishburn said if one’s mental health is affecting one’s ability to function and manage things at home or if one is feeling overwhelmed constantly, those are the times that it’s really important to reach out for help. 

CMHAWW’s HERE 24/7 has responded to thousands of mental health, addictions and crisis calls across the region. 

Zajdlik said she noticed that once people access counselling, treatment or medication, they turn around quickly or at least are able to get back to a place where they …….


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