'People are struggling': CMHA fears COVID-19 may cause an echo pandemic of mental illness
REGINA -- A Regina woman says disrupted routines during the COVID-19 pandemic are especially challenging for people living with mental illness.
Tanya Condo has been living with bi-polar disorder for more then two decades. She said this past month has been challenging for her in many ways.
“I feel like my coping skills have to be amped up because there is just so much going on and so much anxiety in the world right now,” she said. “It’s like I’m feeling some of that collective anxiety that the whole world is facing and it’s kind of turned the volume dial up a little bit.”
Condo works for a partnership program with the Schizophrenia Society and says continuing to work has been a blessing for her. But because of the nature of her job, she knows many people who use the services at the Schizophrenia Society are struggling during this time.
“They’re missing that social connections and when you don’t have that social connection it really impacts your mental health because you’re struggling to find that connection and that meaning,” she said.
The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) said it’s worried the COVID-19 pandemic will spark an echo pandemic of mental health illnesses. The CMHA said in the past month, it’s already seen an increase of anxiety and depression during the last month.
“All the impacts around people’s financial situations, the economy itself, all that kind of stuff is going to start adding up,” Executive Director Phyllis O’Connor said. “We are going to see actually an upswing almost echoing the curve of the COVID pandemic this will now be a mental health upswing.”
The CMHA launched new wellness support phone lines last week for anyone who needs to speak to someone. It’s not a counselling service, but mental health workers can recommend resources and services if necessary. The CHMA said if anyone is experiencing any thoughts of self-harm, to call a crisis line or 911.
“It can be people who have a mental illness, it can be just someone who is dealing with COVID and is struggling,” O’Connor said.