Written by: Stephen Fenn, Social Worker
Since the beginning of the pandemic, almost all of us have been focusing on our physical health and keeping ourselves safe. This should be our focus as we navigate these difficult times of surges, variants and vaccine rollout. However, most of us have also experienced another pandemic, one of mental health.
Mental health practitioners around the world have been sounding the alarm over the increase in mental health challenges many have faced throughout this turbulent time. While we may still be able to access support for our physical health during the pandemic, mental health support, which was difficult to find pre-pandemic, has become even more challenging to secure.
The burden of mental health has also disproportionately affected those most vulnerable as communities living with unaffordable housing found this even harder as they lost income. People with chronic conditions, more vulnerable to becoming sick, were faced with increased difficulty accessing community supports or treatment, and increased isolation due the higher risk associated with leaving home. And for those who face discrimination and unequal access to society, hostility and insensitivity increased. The support mechanisms we used before, such as seeing family and friends, became impossible due to the associated risks.
The challenges of this pandemic will continue. Although a focus has been on bringing ourselves back to “normal,” we also need to account for the mental health challenges and trauma many have experienced. Many of us don’t know how to seek support and how to take this first step. But support is available and, although we have faced the last year alone, we don’t have to do this moving forward. SRCHC and many other agencies have mental health supports available. While our goal this past year has been on protecting our physical health, a focus on mental health is just as important and worthy.
According to the World Health Organization, “There is no health without mental health.”