Brockville – Brockville General Hospital has seen an increase in mental health concerns as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the next several weeks, our Mental Health Department will be reviewing mental health and addictions trends in our community.
Mental health during COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting social disruption has left many to struggle with changes to routines and feelings of uncertainty as the impact of the virus continues to unfold. Adverse psychological reactions to infectious disease outbreaks including this COVID-19 pandemic are common and include anxiety, depression, stress, sleep disturbances, reduced feelings of safety, scapegoating, increased substance use, such as cannabis and alcohol, physical symptoms, such as lack of energy and general aches and pains, and increased use of medical resources.
The stresses and strains experienced by Canadians have been captured by Canadian Perspectives Survey Series (CPSS), conducted by Statistics Canada. According to this survey, 54% of Canadians aged 15 and older reported excellent or very good mental health during the COVID-19 period. This compares to the findings from the 2018 Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) when 68% of Canadians aged 15 and older said that their mental health was excellent or very good. Among those aged 15 to 24, 42% reported excellent or very good mental health during the pandemic compared to 62% in 2018. In late March, nearly one-quarter of Canadians aged 25 to 64 reported that they would likely lose their main job or primary source of self-employment income in the four weeks that followed.
Virtual care: helping people in our community
Within mental health services, BGH must innovate and develop means to reach out meaningfully to often-underserved populations, who are particularly vulnerable to the socioeconomic impacts of the pandemic and experience mental health fallout.
To protect our patients and clinical team from COVID-19, BGH’s Outpatient Mental Health Service is building capacity to provide rapidly accessible and user-friendly virtual services. During a virtual visit, the patient does not come to the hospital to meet face-to-face with your clinical team. Instead, a virtual visit or session means that a clinician will contact the patient by telephone or using audio-video conferencing software, on a computer or smart phone. Virtual sessions at BGH will occur using secure, video conferencing services, such as, the Ontario Telemedicine Network, referred to as OTN or equivalent service. These services are encrypted and hosted on a secure network. The personal health information discussed within the virtual session is not stored or retained.
These assessment and psychotherapeutic services are provided by a multidisciplinary team of regulated health professionals. The services provided may include: cognitive behavioural therapy, interpersonal therapy, dialectical behavioural therapy or other psychotherapeutic services appropriate to the patient’s clinical needs. In the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic, virtual services will remain a cornerstone of BGH Outpatient Mental Health Services. However, if the patient is experiencing urgent mental health concerns, such as, thoughts of harming themselves or others, that they feel they may act on, they are required to attend their nearest emergency department or, depending on the severity of symptoms, call the BGH crisis line (613-345-4600 or 1-866-281-2911) or 9-1-1.
Please remember that virtual care is not a substitute for attending a hospital emergency department, if urgent care is required.
Next week, BGH will provide insight into the impact isolation can have on mental health.