Manitoba winter isolating people with mental health issues
Mental health workers in Manitoba say the excessive cold is preventing vulnerable people from getting help.
Adam Milne of The Mood Disorders Association of Manitoba said the agency is seeing fewer people with mental health issues this winter than it normally would.
He said the cold weather has forced many people to isolate themselves.
"That's very concerning for me because some of these people don't reach out anywhere else. They're sitting at home, potentially by themselves in their apartments for days on end," he said. "That's not healthy for anyone, let alone people who are already dealing with mental health concerns.
"Isolation is habit forming," he added. "People who allow themselves to [be] isolate[d], it becomes very difficult to get past that.
"So even if the weather were to be warming up, it's been so long that they've been isolating themselves, that that's a very difficult habit to break."
However, the association is reaching more people in a different way this year. In a typical winter, they speak to about 20 people a day on the phone, but this year the number of people calling the peer support line has doubled to about 40 per day.
Milne said people on a limited budget or those who have mobility issues are his biggest concern.
"[Those are people] who can't afford, necessarily, proper winter gear or can't afford transportation," he said.
"The bus can be helpful in some cases. But sometimes it's a long wait in the cold for the bus so it's not worth it to get out there."
Milne is encouraging Manitobans to reach out to those who might be struggling through the winter.