Part 1: Introduction: There is help!

To read part 2 of our series on Mental Health During COVID-19, please click here.

All things COVID-19, are taking a toll on our society in many ways.  Mental health is a major concern for all age groups during these difficult times. Many feared early on that stress, social distancing, quarantining and isolation would lead to an increase in mental health issues, particularly suicides. However, our hospital admissions for mental health issues are down[i]; which means many people are likely suffering at home and staying away from hospitals in fear of catching the Coronavirus.  In fact, suicide crisis calls have been on the rise by almost 200% from October 2019 to October 2020 [ii] , while actual suicide attempts appear unchanged. i,[iii] Some studies have even shown a decrease in deaths by suicide since the onset of COVID-19. [iv], ,[v],[vi]  What this means is that discussing what you are feeling by calling a helpline or a trusted loved one appears to be a viable suicide prevention tool. If you need help, we list resources at the end of this article.

Although we may have dodged a bullet so far with suicide attempts and deaths in Canada, we need to take heed.  In Japan, suicide deaths have been on the rise since the beginning of the pandemic.[vii]  This difference between countries should be evaluated more closely; it may be due to cultural differences in terms of Japanese having high expectations of success.[viii] Since the economy is down and people are struggling throughout the world, if culturally you are expected to succeed and are not doing so well financially, this may lead to major distress and suicidal ideations.  This cultural difference does not exclude us from a possible increase in the near future. Research is still in the early phase.  Canada could soon follow suit, and should therefore take every precaution and prevention measure possible.

Mental health is a very complex topic and is not so easy to solve. However, there are several things that can be done to help. Ongoing stress has been known to increase anxiety, depression, suicide, and other mental illnesses.  Luckily, mental health is a topic that has become more open for discussion with the push of various campaigns such as Bell’s “Let’s talk”. It is still important for professionals to discuss it openly and publish as much information about the topics as possible, so that individuals who are less likely to discuss the matter with family or friends, can still get the help they need through a safe and confidential space.

Over the course of the next few articles, we will dive into various mental health topics.  In order to provide different people with the help that they need, it is important for us to describe  the various symptoms, prevention, treatments, resources and support mechanisms.

In the meantime, if you are under stress, are dealing with feelings of despair, hopelessness, fearfulness, or simply feel like you are not your normal self, do not hesitate to call one of the various helplines. Do not minimize your issue. No matter how big or small you may think it is, you will be heard.  Here are a few resources you can contact:

Canada Suicide Prevention Service (Québec):

1 866 APPELLE (1.866. 277.3553)

Centre d’Intervention de Crise et de prévention du suicide la Maison Sous les Arbres :

(450) 699-5935

Suicide Action Montréal :

1 866-277-3553

 

By :
Tara Grenier, M.Sc., CAT(C)
Injury Prevention Professional
Montreal General Hospital- McGill University Health Centre

 

[i] Montreal General Hospital- McGill University Health Centre Admission and Trauma Registries
[ii] https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/dealing-with-a-lot-suicide-crisis-calls-mount-during-covid-19-pandemic-1.5215056
[iii] https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lanpsy/article/PIIS2215-0366(20)30435-1/fulltext
[iv] https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamanetworkopen/fullarticle/2775359
[v] https://www.forbes.com/sites/jessicagold/2020/12/09/deaths-by-suicide-in-japan-surpassed-deaths-by-covid-19-heres-what-that-means-for-the-us/?sh=ab64f126d754
[vi] https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/calgary/suicides-alberta-bc-saskatchewan-canada-2020-no-increase-1.5902908
[vii] https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-55837160
[viii] http://www.socialstudies.org/sites/default/files/publications/yl/1003/100306.html

 

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