How is the Pandemic Impacting Mental Health?

In Canada, the COVID-19 pandemic began in late January. In mid-June, the total number of reported cases surpassed 100,000, and as of mid-October, over 200,000 Canadian cases had been reported. In the face of the second wave, certain provinces and cities have tightened their restrictions even further to slow the spread of the virus. Unfortunately, the situation in the United States is much grimmer, with over 200,000 deaths to date, and experts predicting things will get worse.1

Given the widespread impact that the virus has had and continues to have on our lives, it is no surprise that our mental health has been negatively impacted.2 Some experts worry that the anxiety Canadians have been experiencing will translate into depression as the hours of daylight dwindle, and temperatures drop, leaving them concerned that we may experience “a long, dark winter.”3

HOW IS THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC IMPACTING CANADIANS’ AND AMERICANS’ MENTAL HEALTH?

Every week, we run a weekly survey focused on the COVID-19 pandemic and current events and ask over 1,500 Canadians and 1,000 Americans to share their perspectives and experiences. In mid-October, we asked them how their mental health and stress levels are now (compared to during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic) and what aspects of the pandemic they are finding most stressful.

We learned that 24% of Canadians and 16% of Americans feel their mental health and stress levels are currently worse than during the first wave of the pandemic in March/April. About half of Canadians (54%) and Americans (53%) say their mental health/stress levels are about the same, and 19% of Canadians and 24% of Americans say their mental health/stress levels are better.

24% of Canadians and 16% of Americans report that their mental health and stress levels are currently worse compared to during the first wave of the pandemic in March/April.

THE BIGGEST STRESSOR: WHEN WILL THE PANDEMIC END, AND HOW BAD WILL IT GET?

In the same survey, we asked Canadians and Americans to share their biggest sources of COVID-19 related stress or anxiety that are currently affecting their mental health.

Stressed man sitting at his desk

The biggest stressors among Canadians are:

  • When the pandemic will end/how bad it will get (17%)
  • Social isolation/being unable to socialize/see friends and family (16%)
  • Worries about their family’s health and safety (15%)

Among Americans, the biggest stressors are:

  • When the pandemic will end/how bad it will get (15%)
  • Worries about their family’s health and safety (15%)

14% of Americans report that they are not currently experiencing any stress related to COVID-19.

How does your experience compare? Are the biggest stressors for you similar or different?

TAKING CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE PANDEMIC

We are not medical professionals and cannot offer medical advice, but we’ve consulted the Government of Canada website and compiled a list of some of their suggestions for taking care of your mental health during the pandemic. These include 4:

  • Taking breaks when using social media (while still keeping yourself informed)
  • Staying connected with your friends and family members from a distance (through email, phone calls, video chats, and social media)
  • Taking care of your mind and body (this could be through meditation, stretching, breathing exercises, or physical activity)
  • Eating well (including making sure you handle your food safely)
  • Practicing good sleep habits
  • Practicing compassion (self-compassion and compassion for others) and being kind

To access the full article (which also includes links to provincial-level resources), click here. For resources and support from an American perspective, you can consult the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website here.

This month, the LEO Team has also compiled a list of 6 of our favourite apps that we use to cheer up and lift our spirits. Click here to read our 6 Apps to Cheer You Up article.

Person squeezing a stress ball with a smiley face

HOW ARE YOU TAKING CARE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH DURING THE PANDEMIC?

SHARE WHAT IS WORKING FOR YOU IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!

SURVEY METHODOLOGY

This web survey was conducted from October 16-18, 2020, with 1,512 Canadians and 1,001 Americans, 18 years of age or older, randomly recruited from LEO’s online panel. For the detailed methodology, consult our full report here.

Sources
1https://www.thecut.com/2020/10/which-states-have-coronavirus-and-how-do-you-minimize-risk.html

2http://www.camh.ca/-/media/files/pdfs—public-policy-submissions/covid-and-mh-policy-paper-pdf.pdf

3https://www.ctvnews.ca/health/coronavirus/a-long-dark-winter-experts-worry-about-mental-health-in-first-full-covid-19-winter-1.5154468

4https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/mental-health.html?topic=Health+and+safety&health=What+can+I+do+to+care+for+my+mental+and+physical+health%3F

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