Here we are fully entrenched in Year 2 of the pandemic and, while we may feel a little safer thanks to being double vaccinated, our levels of anxiety, stress, and exhaustion are still much higher than any of us really want to live with.
Let’s be clear, for most of us it is not COVID-19 itself that is causing us angst, it is the ongoing fallout of coping with all the changes it has wrought for us. From losing employment, to pay cut backs, to first working from home, then having to work in an office again, to flip flops over mask wearing, to stress about back-to-school and honestly, for me, the absolutely toxic, incomprehensible furor about getting vaccinated.
This is all having some nasty outcomes. One only has to have a read of most social media forums to feel an underlying, but undeniable, level of anger and frustration at the world. It’s spilling out everywhere—in emails, calls and texts to Pique and the team here and heartbreakingly our own Whistler Community Service Society is under attack as well.
“We are dealing with a lot of individuals at this time that aren’t reasonable,” Jackie Dickinson, WCSS’ executive director, told Pique this week.
“It’s become quite hurtful, and that’s the hardest part, because it impacts our ability to do our work, and show up every day and be the best version of ourselves.
“I think [having compassion] is very hard, and I think our store staff and our social enterprises and our teams, they continue to face a lot of difficult, challenging behaviour,” she said. “And that is really tough.”
Come on everyone… Jackie and her team, along with so many others on the frontline of this pandemic, are our inspiration. They need us to help lift them up, not turn on them when they are doing their very best in the most trying of circumstances.
In so many ways this reaction underlies the very essence of the mental health stress we are under as a community.
We all need to take some time to think about this, and I was reminded of that this weekend as we noted that Sunday was World Mental Health Day. The day was put in place by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 1992. This year its theme is: “Mental health care for all: let’s make it a reality.”
Said Tarun Dua, head of the Mental Health and Addictions Department with WHO, “There is no health without mental health.
“People with mental health conditions, poor mental health, they’re also impacted by the stigma, discrimination, [and] human rights abuses.”
We know that globally before the COVID-19 pandemic, nearly one billion people were clinically diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and the numbers continue to climb. Here at home in Whistler, Dickinson says the WCSS continues to deal with twice as many calls from people in need of counselling as well as services from the foodbank as pre pandemic.
(If you can, please contribute to the fundraising drive going on at WCSS as it continues to work toward a goal of raising $50,000. Go to mywcss.org/fundraiser.)
An Ipsos opinion poll carried out recently found that a large majority think their mental health and physical health are equally important, but they do not see this reflected in our healthcare services.
We know our healthcare system is under strain right now, but there are resources in Whistler to help and people who care—reach out.
In the meantime, try and keep your social connections going, even if it’s virtual. Fortunately we have an amazing natural playground as our backyard and getting out in it will really help you feel better, as will trying some relaxation practises. (Go to the Breather App from the Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre.) And do your best to eat well (the WCSS food bank can help if you need it), sleep, and stay away from toxic social media.
If you are struggling with substance abuse issues don’t isolate yourself. WCSS can help to get you the support you need.
There are many places to find help. To start, go to our own Whistler Community Services Society (mywcss.org), the Canadian Mental Health Association (cmha.bc.ca), www.bouncebackbc.ca, www.anxietycanada.com, www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/virtual-supports-covid-19, Wellness Together Canada and visit Vancouver Coastal Health.