Increased demand for mental health support urgent as demand arises from COVID-19

Data from Samantha Hodder, Nova Scotia Health’s Senior Director of Mental Health and Addictions Services.

We are living through a pandemic that forced people to isolate for months. This led to a surge in mental health outreach from Nova Scotians suffering from new and pre-existing issues. With the threat of a second wave, people are worried about how they can cope with another period of isolation. The mental health of many has suffered far too much.

 

Nova Scotia’s mental health crisis line received 35 percent more calls last month compared to the same month in 2019. The increase is a clear indication that people are suffering in greater numbers as a result of COVID-19 and the many consequences of isolation, stress and uncertainty.

 

“We have a mental health issue on our hands that has significantly worsened due to COVID-19,” says John Lohr, Progressive Conservative critic for mental health and addictions. “The rise in need for mental health support must be addressed by the government or we risk many people suffering during these times of uncertainty and beyond. If our government doesn’t respond to the imminent mental health matter, Nova Scotians will suffer.”

 

The increased level of stress that COVID-19 has put on people coupled with economic hardship and fear can lead to a very distressing situation. The Nova Scotians who do not have access to the internet were completely disconnected from friends, family and community.

 

“Our province must be prepared for the future needs that will arise for mental health care,” says Tim Houston, leader of the Nova Scotia Progressive Conservatives. “The government needs to do better to ensure that people are not unnecessarily suffering if a second wave of COVID-19 happens in our province. The McNeil government has left many gaps in our healthcare system and I want us to be prepared to provide thorough mental health care. The current government has not shown they can do that.”

 

Experts predict there could be a long term increase in the number of individuals impacted by mental health issues. According to the Nova Scotia mental-health crisis line, they received 2,485 calls last month. Preparation is needed to handle the effects of the trauma many people are suffering from the stress of the current pandemic.