'Game changer': COVID-19 pandemic may have lifelong impact for some, B.C. psychologist says

A clinical psychologist says while the great majority of people will have no problem returning to normal after COVID-19, some will have issues for life.

University of British Columbia psychology professor Dr. Steven Taylor told CTV Morning Live on Monday that some people, particularly those who suffered from anxiety before COVID-19, might find it harder than others to get back to normal.

“Not everyone’s feeling anxious; these pandemics bring out extremes and some people just can’t wait to bounce back to resume their normal lives,” said Taylor.

Others will go at their own pace when restrictions ease, he added.

“It’s normal for many people to experience some apprehension as life returns to normal.”

A Leger poll, conducted in May, found most Canadians surveyed experienced at least some level of anxiety when thinking of returning to a life similar to the one they led before COVID-19.

“You’ll probably feel a little bit of apprehension the first time you go to a big stadium event or a big football game, for example, but most people will find their anxiety dissipates very rapidly. I think people will be surprised about how comfortable they feel.”

And some will always carry their COVID-19 experiences, Taylor said.

“some people, the things they’ve experienced during COVID-19 will stay with them for life, particularly those who’ve become very ill and developed problems like post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of COVID-19. So for some people, this will be a game changer for them,” he said. “My advice is give yourself a break. It’s OK to feel some degree of anxiety.”

But he advises if anxiety is impairing your functioning and quality of life he advised seeking out mental health counselling.

And he has called for more resources to be put into Canadian mental health treatment, especially now. 

“We don’t have the resources. We should have had the resources; we should have been thinking about this a year ago, like they did in China, planning for mental health resources for the aftermath,” said the clinical psychologist

And while he said we have a lot of work to do in that regard, the majority of what he’s seeing in locally is positive.

“I’ve been observing here in Vancouver the people here are definitely bouncing back. When the weather is fine, the beaches and parks are packed. It looks like a definite return to normal,“ said Taylor.