It's Mental Health Week.
COVID-19 has been stressful for everyone and so it’s important that we take time to care for ourselves. I’ve highlighted below some self-care tips that might be of help. Official provincial resources can be found here.
At the provincial level, I have joined the call urging the Ford government to start planning now for the surge in demand for mental health and addiction support and services that will result from the stress and trauma from COVID-19. Today, the government announced the expansion of virtual mental health services which is a step in the right direction but a lot more funding is needed.
As well, we are learning that Toronto is dealing with a spike in overdoses as paramedics are received a record number of calls in March. It is clear that we are facing two public health crises simultaneously: COVID-19 and the overdose crisis. This is having a ripple effect on our healthcare system that is already under stress. It’s not only a crisis for those facing dependency challenges but is putting frontline healthcare responders under greater pressure. I have asked the Ford government to look at all options including what other jurisdictions are doing to help people. The BC model with their new clinical guidelines has been a great example and with other public health measures in place, has consistently seen overdoses drop significantly. I am glad that former Liberal leader John Fraser and Green leader Mike Schreiner echo my call. We cannot have one public health crisis compound another.
Finally, my mantra is always prevention is better than cure. It is not only better for people’s health but also cheaper in the long run. So we need to take a preventative approach and promote mental well being. We can do that by taking action on the social determinants of mental health -- affordable housing, clean and healthy environment, fair wages, dignified social support etc. Remember, we can only achieve a healthy society by building a just society.
As always, wash your hands, stay home (except if you must work), wear a mask if you go out, be kind. We are all in this together.