Montreal-led study finds mental health did not decline during pandemic
A McGill University-led study found that, contrary to many other reports, the COVID-19 pandemic has not taken a great toll on most people’s mental health.
Billed as the “world’s most comprehensive study on COVID-19 mental health,” the research team included members from McMaster University, the University of Toronto and others. It looked at data from 137 other studies in multiple languages from around the globe, primarily from high or middle-income countries. Three-quarters of the participants were adults, and a quarter were between 10 and 19 years old.
“Claims that the mental health of most people has deteriorated significantly during the pandemic have been based primarily on individual studies that are ‘snapshots’ of a particular situation, in a particular place, at a particular time,” said lead researcher Brett Thombs. “They typically don’t involve any long-term comparison with what had existed before or came after.”
It was the most comprehensive study of its kind.
Thombs said the findings were a surprise.
“We thought like everybody else that there would be a lot bigger impact on mental health in the pandemic,” he told CTV News.
The researchers found that the mental health symptoms of the population as a whole changed very little from before the pandemic to during the height of it when restrictions, curfews, lockdowns, mask mandates, vaccine passports and other policies were in place.
Thombs said that the study shows the resilience of people, no matter where they live, to navigate changes to their routines and sometimes even thrive when shifted out of their routines.
“This is by far the most comprehensive study on COVID-19 mental health in the world, and it shows that, in general, people have been much more resilient than many have assumed,” said researcher Ying Sun from the Lady Davis Institute at the Jewish General Hospital.
NOT A BLACK-AND-WHITE ISSUE
Thombs added that the pandemic and mental health are not black-and-white phenomena with simple answers.
“It’s definitely not an overarching mental health crisis or a mental health tsunami,” said Thombs. “The pandemic’s been messy. It’s meant different things for different people.”
McGill University researcher Brett Thombs. (CTV News)
Thombs did not discount those whose mental health was affected by the pandemic, but added that many found new hobbies, reduced their commute, exercised more or found other ways to improve their lives.
“Our study doesn’t apply to any one person, but what we did find, for the most part, there weren’t changes from before the pandemic, although we did find some,” he said. “This was much more nuanced than people were saying and there is a lot of resilience out there. People have actually done some really good things during the pandemic.”
Some groups that formed via Zoom or in other ways, continued beyond the lockdown orders and curfews, Thombs said.
WOMEN SUFFERED MORE THAN MEN
The study did find that some women experienced the greatest drop in mental health during the pandemic, with anxiety, depression and general mental health issues increasing in some.
“They weren’t huge, but they were there,” said Thombs.
Also, those in health care, elder care and other stressful jobs found the pandemic more taxing than others.
“This is concerning and suggests that some women, as well as some people in other groups, have experienced changes for the worse in their mental health and will need ongoing access to mental health support,” said McMaster professor Danielle Rice. “The Canadian federal and provincial governments along with governments elsewhere in the world have worked to increase access to mental health services during the pandemic, and should ensure that these services continue to be available.”
Thombs admitted as well that those working in health care, elder care, and emergency services were not part of the studies, which could affect some of the data. In addition, as most of the studies looked at were from middle or upper-middle-income populations, the world’s poor are mostly absent.
MORE MENTAL HEALTH SUPPORT NEEDED
Thombs said that although the study showed no signs that mental health issues spiked during the pandemic, it does not mean that there isn’t an issue with services and support for those with mental health issues in Quebec and Canada.
“It’s important to say that whatever the level is, that we are not doing a good job here in Canada or here in Quebec in making sure that people who do have mental health needs were getting service in a timely fashion when they need it, and getting the kind of service and the amount of service they needed, even before the pandemic,” he said.
“If we’re going to talk about a crisis, that, in my opinion, is a crisis that was here before the pandemic, and it’s still there.”
Nearby regions report spike in whopping cough – BlackburnNews.com
Nearby regions report spike in whopping cough
March 24, 2023 12:01pm
While some communities in southwestern Ontario are seeing an increase in pertussis, commonly referred to as whooping cough, Lambton Public Health (LPH) has not noted any recent cases within its jurisdiction.
The last case of pertussis reported in Sarnia-Lambton was in 2019.
Earlier this week, the health units in Windsor-Essex and Huron-Perth reported increases in whooping cough cases.
There have been 18 cases since November 2022 in Windsor-Essex, and in Huron-Perth there have been 21 confirmed cases so far this year.
“As always, Lambton Public Health encourages parents and caregivers of children to stay up-to-date on their routine immunizations, which include pertussis, as this greatly reduces the risk of outbreaks and serious illness,” read an emailed statement to Sarnia News Today.
“Other eligible populations for pertussis vaccine include adolescents around 14 to 16 years of age, pregnant individuals preferably between 27 and 32 weeks of gestation, and one adult booster dose for those 18 years of age and older.”
Pertussis is a contagious infection in the lungs and is most dangerous for infants.
In February, LPH said 6,589 letters would be sent to students about routine immunizations.
Waterloo regional COVID-19, cold and flu care clinic closing its doors | CTV News – CTV News Kitchener
It might be a sign of change in the pandemic that has gripped the world for three years.
The regional COVID-19 Cold & Flu Care Clinic run by Grand River Hospital is closing its doors.
The clinic has been open for the last six months, first at 66 Pinebush Road in Cambridge and later at 50 Sportsworld Drive in Kitchener, after the hospital announced it would be expanding the services offered by the clinic.
Healthcare workers said it’s a bittersweet day, noting there is still a need for its services in the community.
“At our peak, we were seeing up to 400 patients per week, and it was incredible to see the way this team would perform. Everyone did their part, everybody held their own,” Lisa Anstey, manager of the regional COVID care clinic, said.
She added that it never felt chaotic or busy at the clinic because it was well organized.
“The patients were all very pleased with the care they received,” she said.
The clinic has cared for over 8,000 patients over the last six months.
The hospital said the clinic`s closure comes with the return of warmer weather and anticipated seasonal decline of cold and flu.
“If their symptoms are severe and worsening they should go to a local emergency department… pharmacies are a wonderful resource as well. They can provide Plaxlovid prescriptions or they can support through PCR testing,” said Anstey.
Care will now transition to family physicians, urgent care clinics and community pharmacies.
The hospital says the regional clinic grew out of the COVID-19 assessment clinics which were run by local hospitals starting in 2020. Their goal was to divert patients away from hospitals and get the COVID-19, cold and flu care they need.
The clinic’s doors closed at 4 p.m. Friday.
Nurses Marilyn Boehm and Lannie Butler have been working side-by-side since March 2020, the pair taking on the pandemic together.
They have worked at the drive-thru testing clinic, vaccine clinic and at the regional COVID-19, Cold & Flu Care Clinic.
“This is our final journey, we’re sad it’s closing,” the duo said. “We worry about what’s going to happen to our patients out there in our community.”
“That’s the only recourse that some of the sicker folks have is to go to the emergency department and we know about the long waits and the high volumes there.”
The clinic has helped divert patients from the emergency rooms, and they say the closure could place the burden back on hospitals.
The Ontario Pharmacist Association also has concerns.
“There can be a challenge with needing to ramp those efforts up again very rapidly given the challenges everyone is facing with workforce, health human resources,” Jen Belcher, vice-president of member relations with the Ontario Pharmacist Association, said
The association is stressing that the pandemic isn’t over yet, despite mandates being dropped.
“It’s absolutely not from what we’ve seen from the impact of the disease on our population both through new infection and some of those longer-term complications associated with people with long COVID for example,” Belcher said.
As for Boehm and Butler, they say they will return if they get called back to the frontlines to continue fighting COVID-19.
OTHER CLINICS SET TO CLOSE
The Grand River Hospital’s COVID-19 clinic is not the only one closing in southern Ontario.
On Friday, the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) said it will be closing its COVID-19, cold and flu care clinic.
According to the HPHA, the last day of operation for COVID-19 testing will be March 30.
“The contribution this team has made to the quality of our local health system during the pandemic has been outstanding,” said Andrew Williams, President and CEO of HPHA in a news release. “As we close our CCFCC a huge thank you is extended to our community partners including the Stratford Rotary Complex, the wonderful staff at the Stratford Family Health Team, Emad Salama of PrinceRx Pharmacy for generously paying the parking fees for all the CCFCC patients and, of course, all the staff and physicians that worked tirelessly provide this service.”
THE HPHA said over 54,000 PCR tests and over 2,000 clinical assessments have been completed.
Over in Guelph, the Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin Public Health unit said it will be closing its clinic on March 31.
Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance closes COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic
The Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance’s (HPHA) COVID, Cold and Flu Care Clinic (CCFCC) will be closing due to a steady decline in patients.
The last day of operation for COVID-19 testing will be Thursday, March 30. The last day for physician assessment will be Friday, March 31.
“The contribution this team has made to the quality of our local health system during the pandemic has been outstanding,” said President and CEO Andrew Williams. “As we close our CCFCC, a huge thank you is extended to our community partners including the Stratford Rotary Complex, the wonderful staff at the Stratford Family Health Team, Emad Salama of PrinceRx Pharmacy for generously paying the parking fees for all the CCFCC patients and, of course, all the staff and physicians that worked tirelessly to provide this service.”
For patients seeking COVID-19 assessment, testing, or antiviral treatment after March 31, contact your family doctor or visit Ontario’s COVID-19 web page.
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