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‘Anxiety and depression are increasing’: Alberta doctor sees spike in mental health visits – Global News



An Alberta family doctor says he is seeing as many as 12 patients a day suffering with mental health challenges when he used to see just one or two a day in 2019.

Dr. Mukarram A. Zaidi, a family physician in Calgary, says a number of factors, including the pandemic, are contributing to a huge spike in anxiety, depression and suicidal tendencies.

“I don’t have concrete numbers but I’m seeing more and more patients with depression,” he told Global News.

READ MORE: Kenney pledges $53M in mental health funding as Alberta sees no new COVID-19 deaths

Zaidi said many people have lost their jobs and most of those who haven’t are working from home.

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We used to socialize after work, go out and about on the weekend, go out for dinner, workout and catch up with family and friends.

“That has all gone. A: we don’t have work, B: we are working from home, C: we don’t go out.”

Read more:
Shortage of last-resort antidepressant creating ‘scary situation’ for patients: pharmacists

Additionally, many Albertans live in housing that doesn’t have a dedicated space either for work or for working out and staying active.

“A lot of people are working from their basement,” Zaidi said. “Many of patients live in apartments and can’t work out.

“It builds on each other… Everyone’s on edge,” he said.

“Not socializing with one another is a huge deal. Not being allowed to have family visit you… it’s skyrocketed depression in younger patients that I see.”

The big increase in the number of patients suffering from severe depression is what led Zaidi to share a message on Twitter earlier this week.

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Zaidi believes in addition to the economy and the pandemic, political rhetoric is exacerbating the stress Albertans — both patients and physicians — are feeling.

Read more:
Alberta health minister blames feds for scarce details on Phase 2 COVID-19 vaccine plan

“They don’t see ways the economy will improve. They don’t see hope.”

“The government has no clear message,” he said.

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Alberta health minister is furious over vaccine delivery changes

Alberta health minister is furious over vaccine delivery changes – Jan 28, 2021

Confusion and disappointment over vaccine timelines is also increasing worry among Albertans, Zaidi said.

“Their anxiety and depression is increasing on a daily basis.”

Read more:
Albertans report greatest increase of stress as Canadians’ mental health plummets

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Last spring, the Calgary Distress Centre saw a 21 per cent increase in suicide-related calls between January and May. Also over that time period, the centre received more than 5,500 crisis contacts related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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The centre’s director of communication, Diane Jones Konihowski, said the majority of calls the organization has received are mainly related to isolation, anxiety and depression amid the ongoing pandemic.

Read more:
City sees spike in crisis calls amid COVID-19 pandemic: Calgary Distress Centre

While provincial data from the chief medical examiner for 2020 and 2019 is still considered preliminary and may change as cases are finalized, the suicide rate for Alberta actually appears to be trending downward.

In 2020, there were an estimated 468 deaths by suicide, the highest number occurring in the 30-34 age group. The previous year, there were an estimated 601 deaths by suicide, with the highest number reported in the 55-59 age group.

In both years, these occurrences were three times more common in men than women.

The two years before that — 2018 and 2017 — recorded similar rates of suicide: 630 and 647, respectively.

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Alberta announces $68.5M towards protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19

Alberta announces $68.5M towards protecting the vulnerable from COVID-19

There are a number of virtual and remote addiction and mental health supports and services available to Albertans at this time, including:

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The Mental Health Helpline

  • Provides confidential, anonymous service, including crisis intervention, information on mental health programs, and referrals to other agencies if needed.
  • The Mental Health Helpline is available at 1-877-303-2642.

Alberta Health Services’ Help in Tough Times

  • Provides links to supports and services, including addiction and mental health, available to Albertans.

AHS’ Text4Hope program

  • Free service providing three months of daily Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)-based text messages written by mental health therapists.


  • Clinically moderated, online peer-to-peer mental health community that empowers individuals to anonymously seek and provide support 24/7.
  • Togetherall is free to all Albertans aged 16+.

AHS’ virtual addiction and mental health services

  • Services and supports free to Albertans.

Alberta 211

  • Provides information, including support via phone, text, chat and website referrals and resources addiction and mental health referrals and resources.
  • Professionally trained specialists are available by texting INFO to 211, live chat through the website, or calling 2-1-1.

The Crisis Services Canada Suicide Prevention Service

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  • Offers a 24/7 helpline for people thinking about or affected by suicide via phone, text or chat (1-833-456-4566).

Kids Help Phone (expanded) 

  • Provides free, confidential 24/7 services for children, youth, and young adults.
  • Services include professional counselling by phone, and volunteer-led information and crisis support via phone, text, or chat.

Wellness Together Canada

  • Provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed.

The Crisis Text Line Alberta

  • Available 24-7
  • Offers information, referrals and volunteer-led, text based support for Albertans of all ages, by texting CONNECT to 741741.

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Strong But Not Silent: 4 men come together to talk about mental health

Strong But Not Silent: 4 men come together to talk about mental health – Nov 27, 2020

The Edmonton Police Service reported a slight increase in this type of call for service from 2019 to 2020.

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In 2019, there were 4,941 calls for service related to attempted suicide or suicide. In 2020, there were 4,953.

The number of people who lost their lives to suicide (reported to EPS) rose from 39 in 2019 to 61 in 2020.

Read more:
New technology focuses on mental wellness for Albertans during COVID-19 pandemic

“Check on Welfare” calls also rose, from 970 in 2019 to 1,194 in 2020.

Dr. Mukarram A. Zaidi, a family physician in Calgary.

Global News

Zaidi said the increase in mental health-related cases is also taking a toll on physicians, especially when there are multiple patients with complex needs.

“It takes a lot out of you,” he said.

Many of the patients he sees for severe depression come to him because they have no where else to go, Zaidi said.

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“People can’t afford to go to counselling, so while the patient came in for ‘not feeling well for some time’… after looking, bloodwork, asking them questions… It turns out they have severe depression and severe anxiety.”

Read more:
Two family doctors explain why they’re leaving Alberta: ‘Physicians are just feeling powerless’

Zaidi said he then talks with the patient about the diagnosis, discusses possible causes, symptoms and treatment options.

“Seeing 12 in a day? It’s a lot on our mental health as well.

“For my colleagues — family doctors and emergency doctors are under huge pressure.”

The sour relationship between the UCP government and doctors isn’t helping, he said.

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“We don’t have an agreement with the province about how we will be paid.”

Read more:
Alberta government ends master agreement with doctors; new rules coming April 1

On the election trail, Jason Kenney was focused on trimming Alberta’s health-care costs (42 per cent of the province’s operating costs) and often targeted physician pay.

Once elected, the United Conservatives passed Bill 21, which allowed the health minister to terminate the province’s physician compensation agreement with the Alberta Medical Association.

In February 2020, the master agreement was cancelled and Minister Tyler Shandro announced a number of changes to physicians’ pay. In July, the AMA released a survey showing 42 per cent of doctors who responded are thinking about leaving Alberta.

Read more:
Alberta doctors ‘beyond frustrated’ with virtual care app amid coronavirus crisis

“The stress that we are under since COVID started… we are in a negative balance,” Zaidi said. “But not even knowing what’s coming up next is a huge stress for family physicians.

“Not knowing if we can pay the bills and take care of patients.”

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide PreventionDepression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

© 2021 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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What you need to know about COVID-19 in Ottawa on Sunday, July 25 –



Recent developments:

  • Hundreds got vaccinated at pop-up clinic organized by the Escapade music festival.
  • Seventy per cent of Ottawa adults are now fully vaccinated.
  • Ottawa reported six COVID-19 cases Saturday and no new deaths.
  • An Ottawa man endured 100 COVID-19 tests to visit wife in long-term care home.

What’s the latest?

Hundreds of people turned up to get vaccinated against COVID-19 at a pop-up clinic held on Saturday by the organizers of an electronic dance music festival in partnership with the city’s public health department. 

While the vaccine clinic was underway, the City of Ottawa announced that 70 per cent of residents over the age of 18 have received both doses of a COVID-19 vaccine, meaning they are now considered fully vaccinated.

Earlier this week, an Ottawa man marked an important, uniquely 2021 romantic milestone — his 100th COVID-19 test, which he needed to visit his wife of 50 years living in a long-term care home. 

OPH reported six new cases, and no new deaths on Saturday. One patient is in hospital with COVID-19.

Ontario reported 170 new cases of COVID-19 on Saturday, 22 fewer than the previous day. The province also reported three additional deaths linked to the virus.

WATCH | Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health says cases rising at higher rate than in previous weeks: 

Dr. Brent Moloughney, Ottawa’s associate medical officer of health, says cases are rising at a higher rate than in previous weeks as businesses reopen and residents interact more. 1:24

How many cases are there?

As of Saturday, 27,774 Ottawa residents have tested positive for COVID-19. There are 43 known active cases, 27,138 cases considered resolved, and 593 people have died from the illness.

Public health officials have reported more than 50,300 COVID-19 cases across eastern Ontario and western Quebec, including more than 49,200 resolved cases.

Elsewhere in eastern Ontario, 197 people have died. In western Quebec, the death toll is 215.

Akwesasne has had nearly 700 residents test positive and 10 deaths between its northern and southern sections.

Kitigan Zibi has had 34 cases and one death. Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory has had 11, with one death. Pikwakanagan hasn’t had any.

CBC Ottawa is profiling those who’ve died of COVID-19. If you’d like to share your loved one’s story, please get in touch.

What are the rules?

Eastern Ontario:

Ontario is in Step 3 of its reopening plan.

The latest step allows for indoor dining, with capacity limits based on everyone being able to keep an acceptable distance.

Gyms, movie theatres and museums are able to reach a capacity of 50 per cent inside.

Larger general gathering limits have risen to 25 people inside and 100 people outside. Those limits are even higher for organized events, leading to the resumption of summer festivals and professional sports.

A detailed plan for the next school year is in the works, according to the education minister.

A hairstylist at Aline Unisex Hair Design in Ottawa’s Chinatown wears a plastic visor and mask while working. (Andrew Lee/CBC)

Western Quebec

Western Quebec is now under green zone restrictions, the lowest on the province’s four-colour scale. Its distancing length is now one metre.

Ten people are allowed to gather inside private residences and 20 people outdoors — which increases to 50 if playing sports. Organized games are permitted outdoors again and gyms are open.

People can eat both indoors and outdoors at restaurants and bars.

Personal care services and non-essential businesses can open. As many as 3,500 people can gather in a large theatre or arena and at outdoor festivals.

What can I do?

The novel coronavirus primarily spreads through droplets that can hang in the air.

People can be contagious without symptoms, even after getting a vaccine. Coronavirus variants of concern are more contagious and are established.

This means it is important to take precautions now and in the future like staying home while sick — and getting help with costs if needed —  keeping hands and surfaces clean and maintaining distance from anyone you don’t live with, even with a mask on.

Vaccines curb the spread of all types of the coronavirus.

Masks, preferably ones that fit snugly and have three layers, are mandatory in indoor public settings in Ontario and Quebec and recommended in crowded outdoor areas.

There’s federal guidance for what vaccinated people can do in different situations.

Fully vaccinated Canadians and permanent residents can now skip the 14-day quarantine. People have to show proof of a recent negative COVID-19 test to enter Canada by land without a fine.

The federal government has announced fully vaccinated U.S. citizens and permanent residents living there would be able to visit Canada without having to quarantine starting Aug. 9, while tourists from all other countries would be allowed as of Sept. 7.

Health Canada recommends older adults and people with underlying medical conditions get help with errands.

Anyone with COVID-19 symptoms should self-isolate, as should those who’ve been ordered to do so by their public health unit. The length of self-isolation varies in Quebec and Ontario.


Four COVID-19 vaccines have been deemed safe and approved in Canada. Three are in use, with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine the only one approved for children aged 12 to 17.

Canada’s task force says people can wait up to 16 weeks between doses. There are factors pushing provinces to drastically speed up that timeline, including supply and the more infectious delta variant.

That same task force says it’s safe and effective to mix first and second doses.

There is evidence giving a second dose of a Pfizer or Moderna vaccine offers better protection for people who got a first AstraZeneca-Oxford shot. Both Ontario and Quebec are giving people who got a first AstraZeneca dose the option to get a second of the same kind.

More than 2.8 million doses have been given out in the Ottawa-Gatineau region since mid-December, including more than 1.36 million in Ottawa and more than 450,000 in western Quebec.

Eastern Ontario

Ontario is vaccinating anyone age 12 or older.

People can look for provincial appointments opening up online or over the phone at 1-833-943-3900. Pharmacies continue to offer vaccines through their own booking systems, as do some family doctors.

Local health units have flexibility in the larger framework, including around booking, so check their websites for details. They offer standby lists for doses on short notice and recently, more walk-in options.

Campaigns are shifting to target those who are eligible to get their a second shot sooner or who haven’t yet got their first. Some mass clinics have closed.

Vaccine bookings depend on the supply being sent to health units, which generally aren’t reporting the supply problems of previous months.

Western Quebec

Quebec is vaccinating anyone 12 and older. Its goal is to provide second doses four weeks after the first.

People who qualify can make an appointment online or over the phone or visit one of the province’s permanent and mobile walk-in clinics.

People may have to show proof of being fully vaccinated to access certain services if there is an autumn surge of cases.

Symptoms and testing

COVID-19 can range from a cold-like illness to a severe lung infection, with common symptoms including fever, a cough, vomiting and loss of taste or smell. Recently, a runny nose and headache have become more common.

Children tend to have an upset stomach and/or a rash.

If you have severe symptoms, call 911.

Mental health can also be affected by the pandemic, and resources are available to help.

In eastern Ontario:

Anyone seeking a test should make an appointment. Check with your health unit for clinic locations and hours.

Ontario recommends only getting tested if you fit certain criteria, such as having symptoms, exposure or a certain job.

Staff, caregivers and visitors who have been fully-immunized and show no symptoms of the coronavirus no longer need to be tested before entering a long-term care facility.

People without symptoms but who are part of the province’s targeted testing strategy can make an appointment at select pharmacies. Rapid tests are available in some places.

Travellers who need a test have a few more local options to pay for one.

In western Quebec:

Tests are strongly recommended for people with symptoms and their contacts.

People can make an appointment and check wait times online. Some walk-in testing is available.

Call 1-877-644-4545 with questions, including if walk-in testing is available nearby.

First Nations, Inuit and Métis:

First Nations, Inuit and Métis people, or someone travelling to work in a remote Indigenous community, are eligible for a test in Ontario.

Akwesasne has COVID-19 vaccine clinics, with information online or at 613-575-2341. Anyone in Tyendinaga who’s interested in a test can call 613-967-3603 and should watch the website for dedicated vaccine clinics.

Inuit in Ottawa can call the Akausivik Inuit Family Health Team at 613-740-0999 for service, including testing and vaccines, in Inuktitut or English on weekdays.

The last day for Ottawa’s Indigenous vaccination clinic is July 29.

For more information

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Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds – Medical Xpress



Credit: Unsplash/CC0 Public Domain

Jordan’s health ministry announced Saturday that COVID-19 vaccines will now be available for children aged 12 and above.

The ministry “has decided to lower the COVID-19 vaccination age to 12 years, starting from Sunday July 25” and without requiring an appointment, the ministry said in a statement on its Facebook page on Saturday.

“Vaccination will be optional, and those under 18 will be able to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine with the consent of their guardian,” the statement added.

Jordan, a country of 10 million people, has officially recorded more than 763,900 coronavirus cases, including over 9,900 deaths, since the start of its outbreak.

Some 1.9 million people have been fully inoculated against COVID-19, while 2.7 million have received an initial vaccine dose.

The United States, Canada and the European Union have already authorised the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for 12-year-olds.

Amman said last month it had concluded several agreements to obtain a total of around 12 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, and planned to order five million additional jabs.

The country last weekend received half a million Pfizer-BioNTech doses from Washington.

Authorities are pushing the population to take up the vaccines, and have adopted restrictive or punitive measures targeting those who fail to do so.

The measures include requiring unvaccinated or partially vaccinated public sector employees to present a negative COVID-19 test twice a week, and prohibiting the issuance or renewal of work and residency permits for those who are not fully vaccinated.

Explore further

US orders 200 mn more Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine doses

© 2021 AFP

Jordan to open COVID vaccinations for 12-year-olds (2021, July 25)
retrieved 25 July 2021

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part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.

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Vaccines are a ‘personal decision,’ church founder says after congregant refuses shot, dies of COVID – Times News Express



LOS ANGELES — The founder of the multinational Hillsong Church told CNN that COVID-19 vaccines are a “personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals” after a congregant who publicly refused inoculation died of complications from the disease.

Hillsong Church global senior pastor Brian Houston had announced the death of Stephen Harmon, who attended Hillsong in Los Angeles, on social media this week.

Harmon had said on social media that he would not receive the vaccine, even when he was fighting COVID-19 in a hospital this month.

“Stephen was just a young man in his early 30s,” Houston wrote, announcing Harmon’s death on social media. “He was one of the most generous people I know and he had so much in front of him.”

Houston expanded on his social media posts in a statement to CNN, saying that “any loss of life is a moment to mourn and offer support to those who are suffering and so our heartfelt prayers are with his family and those who loved him.”

Doctor says many hospitalized COVID patients express remorse

“On any medical issue, we strongly encourage those in our church to follow the guidance of their doctors,” Houston said, emphasizing that the church’s focus was on spiritual well-being.

“While many of our staff, leadership and congregation have already received the COVID-19 vaccine, we recognize this is a personal decision for each individual to make with the counsel of medical professionals,” Houston’s statement reads.

Hillsong Church, founded in Australia, has congregations around the world. Harmon attended Hillsong in downtown L.A.

CNN sought comment from the Harmon family but did not receive a response.

Prior to him saying he was infected with COVID-19, Harmon made two posts on Twitter on June 3 in which he parodied Jay-Z’s “99 Problems” lyrics — saying he had 99 problems but “a vax” wasn’t one.

Just over a month later, Harmon had pneumonia as a result of COVID-19 infection and was sitting in a hospital bed in a COVID ward, according to his Instagram posts.

He had been hospitalized with COVID-19 complications since at least June 30, according to his social media posts. Throughout his hospitalizations, social media posts show that Harmon kept in frequent contact with Houston.

Even while in a hospital, Harmon was adamant that he would not receive the vaccine, posting he wasn’t “anti-vax” but was “pro information.”

“i’m not against it, i’m just not in a rush to get it,” he wrote in a July 8 Instagram post. “Ironically, as I continue to lay here … in my COVID ward isolation room fighting off the virus and pneumonia.”

He added he wouldn’t get a vaccine even after recovery.

“Biden’s door to door vaccine ‘surveyors’ really should be called JaCOVID Witnesses. #keepmovingdork,” Harmon wrote the same day on Twitter.

On Friday, after his death was announced, Harmon’s Instagram account was made private.

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