Despite use of pandemic-driven video-conferencing to keep people connected, Canadians’ feelings of isolation are higher than ever, new national mental health statistics indicate.
The Canadian Mental Health Association in partnership with connectivity firm Maru/Matchbox found in a survey that British Columbians are feeling more negative emotions than positive ones these days. The numbers came in at 53% negative compared to 47% positive.
Indeed, feelings of isolation among Canadians has risen up eight points from 39% to 47% while 66% of British Columbians want more meaningful social interactions in their daily life.
“Most Canadians want more social connection, yet they’re reluctant to have the kind of honest, open conversations that build the connection they crave,” association CEO Margaret Eaton said. “In our society, it’s a cultural norm to ask people how they’re doing, but not to expect, nor provide, a truthful answer.”
Right now, she said, that truthful connection is more vital than ever.
Loneliness was already a major public health concern even before the social distancing required to fight the pandemic. And, with a lack of social connection, the CMHA said, comes increased risk for anxiety, depression, anti-social behaviour and suicide.
Without activities allowing for social interaction, the CMHA said, 47% of British Columbians are feeling anxious, while only eight per cent are feeling happy.
“It doesn’t just feel good to connect, it’s actually essential for our mental health,” said CMHA B.C. division CEO Jonny Morris. “During this challenging time of social distancing and physical separation it’s our social connections which will really help us through and will help us recover from this pandemic and it’s mental health implications individually and as a community.”
In order to meet the mental health challenges presented by the pandemic, B.C.’s government recently announced $5 million to expand mental health programs and services and launch new services.
“If you are feeling anxious, stressed, depressed or disconnected because of COVID-19, I want you to know that you are not alone,” Premier John Horgan said April 9. “Our government is working to give you more options for mental health support as we all stay home to prevent the spread of this virus.”
Enhanced virtual services put a particular focus on adults, youth, front-line health care workers, indigenous communities and those living in rural and remote areas.
CMHA mental wellness articles can be found here:
Provincial programs can be found here: