Mental health has always played a critical role in overall wellness. Since 1949, May is identified as Mental Health Month and most participating agencies promote specific awareness that mental health is something that everyone should care about and be passionate about.
In May, advocacies on mental health are vitally important especially after the COVID-19 pandemic spread havoc all over the world. A pandemic-stricken planet desperately needs mental health advocates to continue spreading awareness and eliminating stereotypes for everyone to have a firm mental health foundation built to outstand and withstand.
Statistics has it that at any given year, one in five people in Canada experiences an addiction problem or any mental illness (CAMH, 2021). Approximately 8% of adults are predicted to experience major depression at some point in their lives, and approximately 1% of Canadians are predicted to experience a bipolar disorder or manic depression (CMHA, 2021). With these numbers in mind, a lot of companies have started in invest in an exceptional number of mental health research. This was usually done through surveys, interviews cleverly crafted and implemented during major turning points in the pandemic’s progression, in an attempt to assess COVID-19’s effect real-time. True enough, people are struggling with their mental health more than ever, signifying the need for change in terms of mental health care. This is a time where everyone begins to see the importance of including psychologists and psychotherapists in the nation’s publicly funded health system.
Mental illness is the leading cause of disability in Canada (CAMH, 2021), with depression and anxiety as the most prevalent (Dozois, 2020). Major depression, in particular, affects about 4.7 per cent of those age 15 and over in Canada (Yousif, 2021). Approximately four percent of those surveyed admit having experienced severe depression pre-pandemic. With COVID now in the picture, the number increased drastically to 10-13%. Unaddressed anxiety and depression often lead to substance abuse, with about one-third of Canadians suffering from anxiety and depression admitting to use alcohol and cannabis during the pandemic (Dozois, 2020).
Recurrent lockdowns have caused drastic economic downturns, which ultimately led to job loss. Unemployment rates soared high this pandemic and job loss has been found to be significantly associated with increased depression, anxiety, distress, and low self-esteem. Furthermore, this may lead to higher rates of substance use disorder and suicide (Panchal et al., 2021). Although the government has pure intentions in curbing the virus’ spread through mitigation policies, these measures in return highly affected the mental well-being of everyone on the planet. Mothers and children alike are suddenly catapulted into the world of homeschooling, a practice not everyone is familiar about. In fact, women with children are more probable to report symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder compared to men with children (49% vs. 40%) (Panchal, 2021).
The same effect has been noticeable especially among people of color. It was reported that Non-Hispanic Black adults (48%) and Hispanic or Latino adults (46%) are more prone to state symptoms of anxiety and/or depressive disorder compared to Non-Hispanic White adults (41%).
Unfortunately, despite efforts on raising awareness and education, the stigma attached to mental illnesses remains the same. Almost half of those who feel like they are suffering from depression and anxiety have never visited a doctor to address the problem. The stigma or discrimination remains a serious barrier to the diagnosis and treatment of these conditions, despite the fact that mental illnesses can be treated effectively.
With data implicating that the pandemic has adversely affected the mental health status of most people, the campaign for mental health awareness should go on. These campaigns should focus on what an individual can do at home to preserve his mental health. Mindful coping mechanisms are a frequent search topic online, which means that more and more people are becoming aware of the effects of the pandemic on an individual’s mental state. With this kind of attention, there is a big chance that lawmakers will start to consider including mental healthcare in the picture.
Awareness goes a long way. As a matter of fact, recognition of depression makes a difference in about 80% of patients. This pandemic has revealed numerous unaddressed issues in our society and there is no time to waste. This Mental Health Awareness Month, we could all start by reeducating ourselves on holistic wellness, and sharing to others the knowledge that we have gained. In this way, we use knowledge to tear down ignorance and discrimination among ourselves, and help others get by despite the grueling times.