By Glenn Hendry

Published October 8, 2021 at 4:36 pm

As Canadians begin to believe they can see the light at the end of the COVID-19 pandemic a new poll suggests we are on the brink of a new health emergency – a mental health pandemic.

As Canada joins the World Health Organization (WHO) and countries around the globe in recognizing World Mental Health Day on Sunday, a new Ipsos poll conducted on behalf of Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences has revealed that more than two-thirds of respondents believe we are experiencing a mental health pandemic.

“To know Canadians are suffering from a mental health standpoint is heartbreaking, but, unfortunately, not surprising,” notes Karim Mamdani, President and CEO of Ontario Shores, a specialty mental health hospital in Whitby which has been treating mental illness for more than a century.

“This should serve as a warning for policy and decision-makers that the demands for mental health services will continue to increase at an alarming rate as we continue living through the COVID-19 pandemic and long after it is over.”

The global COVID-19 pandemic called on March 11, 2020 has brought national media attention to physical healthcare needs of Canadians. Meanwhile, amid physical distancing, isolation protocols and lockdown measures, the mental health of Canadians has been negatively impacted. According to the study, 28 per cent of Canadians admit their mental health has deteriorated during the pandemic, while 69 per cent believe Canada is in the midst of a mental health pandemic.

Dr. Steven Selchen, the Chief of Psychiatry at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington, agreed and he recognized the fact COVID-19 has placed an extra burden on many people.

“Even before the pandemic, the awareness around mental health was growing,” said Selchen, who’s been at Jo Brant for five years. “With the increased stress involved with isolation, or being with other people more than usual, we’ve seen an exponential increase in Burlington of people needing help.”

And getting help sooner rather than later is one of the key things Selchen is focusing on.

“The biggest challenge we have is getting patients in to see the right clinician in a timely way. One of the ways we’re doing that is by working with local agencies to eliminate wait times.”



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