VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – As a huge number of Canadians report a worsening of their mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, the call centres set up to help them are dangerously close to folding.
The problem appears to be a national one with the situation being described as a “perfect storm” by the CEO of Crisis Services Canada, which runs the only national suicide-specific helpline in the country.
Stephanie MacKendrick says some of their call centres have reported a 90 per cent drop in volunteers.
And it’s not like they can turn to paid help, since their revenue streams have dried up because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Crisis Services Canada is now asking the government for $15-million in emergency funding to keep distress centres afloat.
According to MacKendrick, community distress centres across Canada have seen 30 to 50 per cent more crisis calls now since the COVID-19 pandemic began.
Worsening of mental health
This comes as the Angus Reid Institute finds, half of Canadians – 50 per cent – have experienced a worsening of their state of mental health.
When asked to sum up how they’re feeling in one word, most say they’re “worried,” followed by “anxious.”
These feelings are higher among women than men, the pollster finds.
As the coronavirus pandemic takes a toll on Canadians’ mental health, it is also having other impacts, with another 42 per cent of respondents saying their physical health has taken a hit due to “inactivity.”
Businesses and the economy have not been spared during the pandemic, and with many either losing their jobs or hours during these difficult times, the Angus Reid Institute says it’s clear “no group is free from mental of financial stress during this time.”
While the majority of respondents say they’re worried or anxious, the third most popular choice according to Angus Reid is “grateful.”
Men, meantime, were more likely to say they’re feeling optimistic than women, while worry and anxiety are higher among women. The latter are also feeling more gratitude amid the crisis.