CMHA urges those struggling during pandemic to reach out

© Can Stock Photo / zimmytws

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is urging people struggling during the pandemic to reach out for help.

The call comes as new provincial data shows far fewer people with a mental health condition have been seeking formal supports since the crisis began.

CMHA Lambton Kent CEO Alan Stevenson said while more residents have been reaching out recently, they’re still concerned that many are keeping their feelings to themselves.

“We’re concerned that people are waiting until they’re in crisis to contact us to ask for help, and we know that if they contact us earlier, early intervention is more successful, usually quicker and was less disruption to somebody’s life,” said Stevenson. “A lot of what people are experiencing is distress related to social distancing and what’s come along with that, sometimes it’s social isolation, anxiety and fears about the future, and these are things that we can assist people to cope with, resolve, make connections that will enable them to get support.”

Stevenson said even though the local chapter has moved to largely virtual service during the pandemic, they’ve been available all along.

“When somebody calls, they can expect to receive sort of any kind of crisis intervention immediately as well as a brief telephone assessment to determine what their needs are,” he said. “And then a link to the most appropriate service within our own choices of services as well then as others, if that’s more appropriate.”

Stevenson said they’ve also been working very collaboratively with all long-term care facilities during the pandemic, as they always have.

“We are providing emergency supports where they are identified. We’re obviously concerned, as I think everybody in the community is, about the well-being of our elders and the impact, of course, of social isolation that results from restrictions on visits.”

Stevenson adds we can all do our part to get through this pandemic.

“Well, I think there’s a need for everybody to just acknowledge that your mental health is important, to seek help if that’s needed. Anyone of us can be supportive of all of our friends and colleagues and family members to just be a listening person and to help people who require more to reach out for services.”

In the first of three polls by Pollara Strategic Insights on behalf of CMHA in Ontario, only 13 per cent of Ontarians who identified as having a mental health condition said they’ve accessed mental health supports since the outbreak, compared to 39 per cent before the pandemic.

Further, nearly one-third of those diagnosed with a mental health condition feel they do not have all the supports they need, while more than three-quarters of those who have accessed mental health supports during the outbreak have found these supports to be helpful.

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