Solving access to treatment for mental health requires a massive effort. The next few months may feel more like extreme crisis management, writes Shawn Whatley in the National Post. Below is an excerpt from the article, which can be read in full here. 

By Shawn Whatley, February 19, 2021 

Canada faced a mental health crisis before COVID-19 hit. The pandemic made it much worse.

“In 25 years of practice, I have never been so busy,” a social worker informed me recently. “Business is booming … very sad.”

Even early in the pandemic, in April, an Angus Reed survey found that 50 per cent of Canadians said their mental health had worsened. Things have not improved. Patients are scrambling to find counselling. Social workers here in Ontario, and other parts of Canada, are working overtime.

In our clinic, parents report an increasing amount of anxiety, especially amongst school-aged children. Students with anxiety seemed to manage pre-COVID. Today, more of them are going into crisis. Distress among many students in Toronto, Peel and York Region mounted as school re-openings loomed. It is too soon to tell how those students are managing back in the classroom.

Teachers are struggling, too. One teacher reported that some schools have up to 30 per cent of staff on leave. Pivoting to online learning presented its own challenge. The continual uncertainty of changing work expectations and the thought of being exposed to hordes of potentially infected children makes things even worse. With the new requirement that students must stay home if even one member of the family has even one COVID-related symptom, parents have been left questioning how often their children will have to miss class, and how they will be able to earn a living with the kids at home.


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