Whitehorse Daily Star

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Tiffanie Tasane

COVID-19 taking a toll on mental health

Many Yukoners reported worsening mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to a Statistics Canada survey.

By Gabrielle Plonka on August 24, 2020

Many Yukoners reported worsening mental health due to COVID-19 restrictions, according to a Statistics Canada survey.

The survey reports that 52.4 per cent of participants felt their mental health was either “somewhat worse or much worse now” since physical distancing rules were implemented.

Participants describe several anxiety problems such as becoming easily annoyed or irritable, feeling nervous, anxious or on edge, worrying too much and having trouble relaxing.

The survey was conducted between April 24 and May 11.

Tiffanie Tasane, the executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Yukon Division, told the Star last week she has noticed the downturn in mental wellness.

“Those numbers may actually seem a little bit low,” Tasane said of the survey results.

The CMHA’s counselling team has seen increased anxiety in clients this year, Tasane said. For clients who already had issues with anxiety, the pandemic has exacerbated them.

“It’s two-fold, in that a lot of coping mechanisms have been removed, things like maybe team sports or social gatherings or travel,” Tasane said.

“If you don’t have your healthy coping mechanisms, then sometimes you replace them with unhealthy coping mechanisms.”

Yukoners with traumatic pasts or who struggle with anxiety may be more likely to turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, she explained.

CMHA counsellors also saw an increase in clients with relationship issues.

Tasane noted that people spent extended periods of time home together during lockdown, which was straining on couples and families.

“Even in a great, healthy relationship, everyone needs time to themselves,” Tasane said.

“We certainly saw relationship issues become a presenting issue far more often than they have been.”

Isolation and the uncertain future are two aggravating factors for mental health during the pandemic.

Tasane noted that while the Yukon has been lucky in its low case count, Yukoners are worried about a potential “second wave,” the impending flu season and borders reopening.

“Living with that uncertainty makes it challenging for people and hard to plan,” Tasane said.

“We’re also grieving things that are lost – people had looked forward to travel or seeing family from far away … there’s this big sense of loss with all of that, as well.”

Tasane explained that maintaining healthy habits – diet, exercise, good sleep habits – are important for maintaining mental health.

“Those basic things do go a long way,” Tasane said.

Dr. Brendan Hanley, the Yukon’s chief medical officer, said during a COVID-19 update last Wednesday that ensuring Yukoners have access to mental health services has been a priority for him.

“Mental health has been a particular concern of mine for many months now, since really the start of the pandemic,” Hanley said.

“We are facing an accumulation of restrictions, even as we are opening up, we still know that the impacts are still being felt.”

Hanley said he thinks there are sufficient mental health resources in the territory, but Yukoners may not be aware of what those resources are. 

“This is an ongoing issue, a back and forth of reviewing services, how well they are being provided,” Hanley said.

The CMHA currently has a two- to three-week wait list for appointments.

Most appointments are being conducted virtually, but clients are able to book an in-person appointment at request.

CMHA appointments are available within 48 hours for Yukoners in crisis, and there is also drop-in telephone counselling.

The CMHA launched a support line in mid-July that is available from 2 to 10 p.m., seven days a week, at 1-844-533-3030.

The Yukon government’s Mental Wellness and Substance Use Services also offers rapid-access counselling.

Tasane recommended that Yukoners look into what employee assistance programming might be available to them, as well.

She said there is room for improvement in the territory’s roster of support services.

“I think there has been an improvement of resources in the Yukon, for sure, but there are still some big gaps,” Tasane said.

“One of the gaps I see is mental health services for youth.”

Tasane says she heard from parents this year whose children struggled with the lockdown and school closures.

“I think the isolation last spring is a huge thing, they are uncertain of their future,” Tasane said.

“I think they have a fear of COVID – of disease – but they may not even know that they have that fear.”

Comments (16)

Up 3 Down 0

Juniper Jackson on Aug 30, 2020 at 1:22 pm

I did not write this. People all over Canada, AND the world, are rioting, marching, protesting about the continued lockdown and loss of freedoms. This letter is just one example of people pushing back. A divisive line is forming, people who want lockdown, people who don't. and it's becoming personal. The people who want lockdown, are trying to force the others to get on board, people who do NOT want lockdown don't care. That's what this letter is about. Force. If these two groups do not come together to respect each others stance, it's going to turn ugly. I have not stopped anyone and said..get that mask off, it's stupid.. but i have been stopped several times and told, once nicely, once really mean, to get a mask on my face. There are people who react really well to control and force. I am not in that group.

"Why do I have to stay home just because you are scared? How about you stay home....you stay in your house indefinitely, you wear a mask, you socially distance yourself from me, you avoid restaurants, you avoid baseball games, you stay off the roads, you avoid malls and beaches and parks, you believe the made up death numbers, you believe the media hype, you get your toxic vaccine while avoiding vitamin C, sunshine and the things God gave us to actually heal.
We are not “all in this together.” I'm not wearing your tin foil hat anymore. I’m no longer going to be a prisoner of your fear. I'm no longer staying in my house or catering to you because you are scared. I'm not wearing a mask and I'm not staying 6 feet away from you anymore because I'm not afraid of you. You are not my enemy and if I get sick, it's not because of you, it's because of me and my system, which not only have I been addressing for quite some time, but I also know how to treat if I get sick. This virus, like H1N1, colds, other flu's can not be avoided.
This virus (or whatever it is) is already circulating. Millions of people have already encountered it, as it's been circulating around the world probably since last September. You WILL have to confront this thing, if you haven’t already. There is no way around it, unless you lock yourself up in your house and it somehow doesn't manage to hop on some mail or some groceries that you ordered online.
your fear is not an excuse to destroy Canada. your fear is not my fear and your fear does not have the right to interfere with my life, my job, my income or my future as a free Canadian citizen. So if you're scared, you can just put your tin foil hat on, or even wrap foil all around your whole body - or around your whole house if you wish - but please keep your fear contained to your little corner of the world and don't contaminate me or my family or my Country.”

Up 5 Down 0

MixedMessages on Aug 28, 2020 at 6:49 pm

I agree with many comments already posted. When is the government opening Summit Heath Services. For some folks who used to see Dr. Blair, it’s been 15 mos since we have had replacement services. Video counselling is impersonal and dehumanizing. Should folks with have MH concerns on hold?

Up 2 Down 14

Chow chow on Aug 28, 2020 at 5:24 pm

@ Guncache

In Canada a typical year the flu claims 800 people.

We are headed toward 10,000 COVID deaths in Canada in just 6 months. Without the lock down and all the efforts being made by governments, businesses and individuals we’d easily be looking at deaths in the hundreds of thousands.

Don’t listen to that gruel from Rebel media and the mouth breathers on Facebook, base your opinions on scientific facts.

Up 19 Down 0

Cameron on Aug 27, 2020 at 6:14 pm

Breanna and Deproblemo - you are both on the mark. You know who manages ADS treatment don’t you ? Why it’s a doctor - the same doctor who brought you group care that locks children out in sub zero temperatures and then stays silent and lets the DM call them liars. ADS was run quite well until a manager was turfed to make room to hide the current one. The superior and highly educated ADS doctor decides if you are fixable. The trail of money ...... remember Wann road at double the cost.

Up 21 Down 2

De Problemmo on Aug 26, 2020 at 10:10 pm

Hello Breanna - You are correct and you are not the only one thinking it - ADS is a joke. You have educated but unqualified individuals running the show. They are insulated and protected through network relationships of friends and family in one big nepotistic orgy of self interest.

These people are your true civil service archetypes. They pick and choose the clients they ‘feel’ are worthy of their time. While they may have knowledge of skills they tend not to be able to put it into practice, mostly, because they do not possess the skills they believe they have and tell others they have. However, to be fair, they are often unable to utilize whatever talents they may have because of the government’s mandate of interference - Let’s do it this way - They qualify job descriptions to the point that they can be anything to suit the particular policy direction of the manager of the day. It is one big authoritative, directionless mass of bubbling ignorance following the ball like a bunch of soccer tots.

So good luck. What people need after government services with ADS is a critical incident debrief. But this is the ‘new normal’... Chaos, faux services by unqualified individuals, and the need for further help after getting help.

You are not alone Breanna. We hear you!

Up 25 Down 4

TheHammer on Aug 26, 2020 at 11:59 am

We don't have a culture of mental stability in the first place. Cabin fever is a famous Yukon malady. To deal with this plague we have to get together in February and throw chainsaws around. Then we have the SAD syndrome, the answer to that crippling mental fog is to walk around with a light bulb hanging over our head. We live in a materialistic modern wasteland alienated from the world of our Ancestors.

Up 19 Down 12

Liberal Disaster on Aug 25, 2020 at 5:18 pm

Yes. There is an absolute abundance of mental health concern these days. I agree that this has been largely the result of the way the pandemic has been handled. Josey - You give them too much credit suggesting that this was a Plandemic although I take your meaning with the insinuation of an intent. But, this too we should consider cautiously. It is a well known social-science fact, based on research evidence, that Liberalism breeds mental disorder.

It is a crazy-making, ideology of internecine polemics the likes of which not even the courts could match. In this analysis however we cannot set aside the apparent homology inherent to both liberalism and anarchy which is of course - chaos. Another common feature shared between the two strains of thought is the tendency for reductionist circularism. The snake is always eating its own tail thinking to itself how awesome it is to be a snake... So shiningly unctuous in its slitherings... But I have digressed...

My apologies. Liberalism is synonymous with mental disorder. Not only is this fact intuitive it is scientifically ‘annuitive’:

“Temporal analysis showed that the relationship between mental illness, happiness, and political ideology has existed in the GSS data since the 1970s and still existed in the 2010s. Within-study meta-analysis of all the results found that extreme liberals had a 150% increased rate of mental illness compared to moderates. The finding of increased mental illness among left-wingers is congruent with numerous findings based on related constructs, such as positive relationships between conservatism, religiousness and health in general.“

See discussions, stats, and author profiles for this publication at: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/339541044 Mental illness and the left
Preprint · February 2020
Emil O. W. Kirkegaard
Ulster Institute for Social Research

Up 29 Down 11

JC on Aug 25, 2020 at 5:11 pm

Rebellions will take place in Canada if the Liberal dictators continue to infringe on our freedoms. I remember an old movie I saw in 1976. A very frustrated TV anchor man yelled out over the TV, I'm mad as hell, and I'm not going to take this anymore". He then told all his listeners to open their windows and yell out the same. Before long thousands of people opened their windows and yelled out that phrase. Listen up Justin and Sandy, the people of Canada are getting "mad as hell and won't take it much more". We didn't elect you to decide our fate. Now, open up Parliament and the provincial and territories legislatures and get back to work and do something constructive. Or else, you might just find out what freedom is really all about.

Up 31 Down 7

NickyB on Aug 25, 2020 at 1:46 pm

A detailed analysis of the University of Manitoba’s recent model prepared on behalf of the Canadian Government illustrates exaggerated and incalculable conclusions. These explicitly theoretical projections, which have little evidence to support them, set an unrealistic foundation of what is considered a success or not with regards to Dr. Tam’s policies. In this case, the models that are used to predict the effects of Sars-Cov-2 adapts a completely unrealistic and unattainable worst-case scenario.
For the general population, the Canadian Government models intended to dictate health policy say the virus is 17X more deadly than reality – which is misleading and instills an unwarranted fear in Canadian citizens.

Up 30 Down 7

Josey Wales on Aug 25, 2020 at 12:15 pm

Yes it might be contributing to a mental health situation, to that even I could agree.
That said, there has been a serious mental health enabling in the last few decades.
As per... I say the breeding ground for much (not all...CBC helps too) of it are public school, fed by the PC Crusade and perpetual victim hood, creating masses of perpetually offended...etc.

Yes there is a complete s*it storm brewing, clouds of lunacy formed a stupid front many, many years before we knew "COVID 19".

The Kung Flu, the power grabs and "expert" claims are just like sprinkles on a already processed poo snack...we are all (well most) must chew down.
all of the above is relevant to the "mental health" discussion. Most of this "crisis" is state sanctioned, enabled and very very well fed.

Remember folks, do you know any struggling political blowholes of any type?
Beyond the struggle to keep the back patting machine running as hard as they do?
By absolute design, I speculate at least 75% of it.

Now...I await the Ministry of Moderation to approve.
Followed by the Ministry of Communication tazing me at the door.
If at night, no biggie..should be a giant mob with torches and pitchforks to light the way.

The Ministry of Culture might have me hung..dunno?

Up 37 Down 3

Breana on Aug 25, 2020 at 4:07 am

The mental wellness substance use services are useless and a joke. You are living in fantasy land if you think the services are adequate. I tried to access the child and family services - do not bother total waste of time.

Up 49 Down 11

Twig on Aug 24, 2020 at 10:30 pm

The headline is wrong. It's not covid19 that's causing the mental health issues. It's the LOCKDOWN and other RESTRICTIONS that our dear government put in place without consulting with the community. Stop the false alarmist headlines already, you're contributing to the problem by ramping up the fear. In fact, the dozen or so covid19 cases in the Yukon only had mild symptoms, all have recovered.

Up 39 Down 20

JC on Aug 24, 2020 at 8:14 pm

I said back in March when the lock down started, this would be one of the results. I got mostly down arrows. This whole thing was ridiculous, and could have been handled in a better way. Only about 9000 people in all of Canada died and I believe a good portion of those deaths were fudged.

Up 52 Down 13

North_of_60 on Aug 24, 2020 at 7:46 pm

Of course people's mental health will suffer when we have an authoritarian govt that uses fearmongering to force people into obeying unrealistic restrictions, instead of being honest and reassuring with people and showing inclusive leadership. This govts "We know what's best for you... shut-up and do what you're told" attitude is paternalistic codswollop and we don't need to take it anymore.

It should be law to immediately re-convene the Legislature whenever a state of emergency is declared. That is when we need non-partisan input from everyone's elected representatives, so equitable decisions can be made and people will feel their concerns are stated and debated.

The Plandemic is over; it peaked 90 days ago, daily deaths from Covid in Canada are now 10 or less. You're more likely to catch your toe and fall to your death than catch Covid and die, and regulations beyond quarantining the sick and vulnerable have little to do with it.

Take off your jammies, go back to work, re-convene the Legislature, and work inclusively to build a recovery plan we all can agree with. That's how democracy is supposed to work King Sandy.

Up 40 Down 10

Guncache on Aug 24, 2020 at 5:42 pm

Don't let news media rule your life and make you paranoid. All news media likes to throw fear into people and control them. How many people die from common influenza and it never makes the news? Wash your hands, use sanitizer and carry on with life. It's not ruling my life.

Up 44 Down 12

Juniper Jackson on Aug 24, 2020 at 4:52 pm

It irritates me no end, that one of the small freedoms taken from me is my ability to choose when I need/want to see my Doctor. I call in, tell some stranger taking appts, what I want to see a doctor for. Then I get a phone call appt. and go over it again with my doctor. And she decides if i can see her or not.

No one is "free", and we may never be again, there is so much money in covid, governments may keep that going into eternity.

I am not free to go to my club and play crib. I am not free to see my friend at Whistle Bend. I miss my daughter in Sask. soooooooooo much. Mental health? What mental health? And for what are we doing all this? At the end of the corona pandemic that isn't.. 98.8% of us are still going to be around. Worried about the flu season? Flu vaccines have been around for 78 years.. ya notice we still have flus? Millions and millions of people caught covid before anyone called it a pandemic. It can not be contained with 21% of people who contracted it, showing NO, or very mild symptoms. We are going to have to deal with it sooner or later.

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