COVID-19 taking a toll on Quebecers' mental health: psychologists

COVID-19 2 (CTV News)

The COVID-19 pandemic is taking a toll not just on physical health but on mental health, according to psychologists.

“Sadly, I think the longer this goes on, the more you'll see people shifting from the initial stress and maybe getting a little exhausted by that stress. Now, some people are starting to get quite depressed,” said clinical psychologist Sydney Miller.

Evidence of that increased stress can be seen in telephone crisis hotlines, which have seen their call volume triple over the past two weeks.

Maureen Rowe, a 75-year-old Montrealer, said she's had difficulty adjusting to life in isolation.

“It's a battle, a personal battle to stay happy,” she said. “I have to change my thoughts because I can feel very isolated and depressed sometimes.”

On Sunday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged young Canadians to seek help if they're having a hard time coping emotionally with the pandemic, singling out the Kids Help Phone in particular as a resource.

“It's a source of anxiety, a source of tension and maybe there's extra tension in your family,” he said. “There are people who can help.”

The federal government announced it would spend $7.5 million to ensure the phone line has enough councillors. Quebec Solidaire health critic Sol Zanetti said he'd like to see the provincial government do more to martial mental health resources for the general population.

“There's already 300 psychologists that stepped up this week to say they were ready to help, so what we say is that we need to make sure they can help with what's needed,” he said.

Quebec public health director Horacio Arruda said there is danger of burnout among those working on the pandemic's frontlines.

“We were at the beginning of the crisis, everybody was working hard. Now... I will make people have a rest, which is necessary for them.” 

THE KIDS HELP PHONE CAN BE REACHED AT 1-800-668-6868.

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