Change is Good, or is it? The Impact of COVID19 on the Mental Health of Canadians

Change, a word that many of us struggle with. This time last year we all had our plans, our vision for what our future would look like heading into 2020 and beyond. In November of 2019 COVID-19 was not a thing. We were all busy planning our hot vacations, our weddings, our retirement, or birthday parties. We were thinking about our career paths, potential promotions, maybe decisions to start fresh somewhere new. Perhaps we were planning to purchase our first home, or to sell and upgrade. Maybe we were planning to start a family. For many of us, we felt stable in our jobs, our lives, financially; we had an idea of what life would look like moving forward. And then COVID19 happened.

Change is difficult in the best of times but coupled with no clear picture of what the futures hold it can impact us in ways we never thought possible, in-fact major change, such as we all went through in early 2020 can bring with it a grieving process, similar to losing a loved one.  Fear also plays a large role, whether it is the fear of ourselves, or someone close to us contracting the virus, fear of job loss, financial fears, or fear of the unknown road ahead.

Most of us are familiar with the statistic that one in five Canadians will deal with a mental health condition during their lifetime. According to a recent NANOS poll which was conducted on behalf of the Mental Health Commission of Canada, 40% of Canadians surveyed indicated a decrease in their mental health since the onset of COVID19. This survey took place in late April during the height of the first wave. This translates as up to 50% of Canadians who are currently dealing with a mental health condition, many of whom may not have the coping strategies in place to lessen the impact of these conditions.

The above considered, there are two key things that we should be reminding ourselves of often during this time:

  1. Be kind to yourself!

  2. You are not alone!

Let’s look at what each of these statements means during this time.

Be kind to yourself, dealing with a mental health condition will impact your work and productivity. The effects can include, inability to focus and concentrate, reduced productivity, struggling with timelines and organization, loss of motivation or commitment, issues with relationships with colleagues or clients, an increase in absenteeism or presenteeism. And the list goes on. It’s important that collectively we realize that we may not be able to perform at the level that we were prior to COVID19. It’s also important to note that for many of us, the additional pressures of working from home, especially while dealing with dependants make it that much more difficult. Be kind to yourself!

You are not alone! For those who have lived with a mental health condition prior to COVID-19, we have likely heard this before, especially with the rise in mental health campaigns and efforts to combat stigma. But for some, this may be a new concept. It is important that you reach out, talk to your colleagues, your employers, your friends, or family. Make use of your EAP or EFAP benefits. Check out the many online mental health resources that organizations, including Service Hospitality offer. There is no shame in opening up about what you are experiencing and how it is impacting you. Sometimes just talking to someone can make a difference. You are not alone!

In closing, and we have all heard this many times over the last several months, we are living in unprecedented times. That said, we have been here before, maybe not personally, but through our ancestry. We have weathered the Spanish flu, the two world wars, the Great Depression. More recently 9-11 and the financial crisis of 2007-2008. Each of these were difficult events and times, but our resilience shined through and we made it through. Let’s hope for a better 2021 and in the meantime, let’s be kind to ourselves, and let’s remember that we are not alone!

For more COVID19 and Mental Health Resources check out our website or reach out to one of our safety advisors at [email protected] or (306) 522-5499. 

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