The imminent mental health apocalypse

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It’s scary to imagine a world where mental health crises surpass physical complications and disease. However, this outcome is likely as the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted our mental health and its effect will be felt far into the future. 

Due in part to minimal breaks for medical staff, burnout has resulted in massive staff shortages post-pandemic. With some reports suggesting that Ontario hospitals are short 30,000 nurses, it’s evident our healthcare system is under immense strain. Canadians will experience the consequences of overworking healthcare workers for a long time. 

Patients, especially those with existing mental health concerns, have had a similar experiences, adding uncertainty and stress to their everyday lives. It has also created a hostile economic environment, with many young people experiencing inflation for the first time. 

The combination of social isolation and precarious financial positions inevitably leads to elevated stress, resulting in widespread mental health problems and the worsening of existing issues. 

Over the past two years, we’ve seen pandemic-induced social isolation affect our mental health. Being forced to stay at home and avoid contact with others leads to almost universal feelings of loneliness and isolation. 

These feelings can lead to a lack of social connection, which is essential for mental health support for both youth and elderly populations. The struggle with loneliness is especially challenging for young people who have been known to already have weak relationships due to problematic social media use

Economic and educational difficulties only exacerbate the problem.

Inflation is hitting hard this new year—another factor that is likely to contribute to the compounding mental health crisis. As the cost-of-living rises, more and more people will struggle to make ends meet. Food insecurity and the inability to indulge in prior luxuries are already becoming reality for many.

The stress of social isolation and financial insecurity is associated with a range of mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety.

Homelessness has also been on the rise post-pandemic and is closely related to mental health problems and addiction. We are already able to see a glimpse of this grim future in our local community, with the City of Kingston announcing a mental health crisis

The City decided to postpone the eviction of Kingstonians living in camps at Belle Park while they request funding from the province to better support individuals suffering from mental health disorders or addiction.

It’s important that governments and organizations work to address these issues to prevent a mental health crisis that our health infrastructure can’t tolerate. Increasing access to mental health services, particularly for those who are at a higher risk of developing mental health problems, can help reduce the load on our already overburdened healthcare system.

Communities must show support for one another and collaborate to raise awareness regarding mental health and the supports people need. Such conversations will reduce stigma and pressure politicians to act on mental health before it’s too late.

While mental disorders are bound to occur, we must act to minimize the fallout. 

Dharmayu is a third-year Health Sciences student and The Journal’s Production Manager.

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