Social isolation is taking a toll on Canadians’ mental health

In a survey conducted by Sun Life, over half of Canadians surveyed (56%) said COVID-19 is having a negative impact on their mental health, with social isolation the top contributing factor.

The survey reveals COVID-19 is having a greater negative impact on the mental health of women (62%) compared to men (49%). As to what Canadians feel is contributing to their mental health challenges, a majority cite social isolation (66%).

Other factors that are having an impact include:
1. Concern for loved ones (57%)
2. Fear of contracting COVID-19 (56%)
3. Financial concerns (51%)

Close to 60% of Canadians whose mental health has been negatively impacted said they are not receiving treatment or social support. When they were asked what barriers were stopping them from receiving support for their mental health, they listed:
1. I can’t afford it (22%)
2. I don’t know where to go or who to ask for help (17%)
3. I am embarrassed to ask for help (12%)

“During the pandemic people are feeling a mix of emotions including anxiety, stress, fear and nervousness,” said Dr. Sam Mikail, Director, Mental Health Solutions, Sun Life. “It’s important to listen to your body, understand how you’re feeling and reach out for help. Connecting with a friend or family is a great first step. But don’t hesitate to seek professional advice. There are many resources either through your employee benefits or free in the community that can help you manage your mental health. We’re all in this together.”

Dr. Mikail offers the following advice for Canadians to help manage their mental well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic:
1. Look to see what extended health care benefits your employer offers, including Employee and Family Assistance Programs.
2. Take advantage of free platforms such as Lumino Health, a tool that helps you search for trusted health care providers and offers health related resources.
3. If you are living alone and are not physically vulnerable, be sure to get out at least once a day while following the recommended precautions.
4. If you are living with other family members, give yourself permission to set some time for yourself. We all need some alone time.
5. Stay connected to your support network using virtual technology and be honest about how you’re feeling.

Source: Sun Life, More than half of Canadians experiencing mental health issues during COVID-19