Economic downturn impacting mental health of Calgarians, study says

A new study from the Calgary Counselling Centre exploring the relationship between mental health and job loss shows that the economic downturn is weighing heavily on the minds of Calgarians.

Calgary Counselling Centre says clients are increasingly distressed

More and more people are turning to counselling for support as the economic downturn continues. (Shutterstock)

More and more unemployed Calgarians are turning to counselling for support as the economic downturn continues.

The Calgary Counselling Centre received a record-breaking number of requests for service in January, the centre said in a release.

A new study from the centre shows that clients in 2015 showed much higher levels of distress compared to the previous year. The number of clients who said they were looking for work also increased from 11.4 per cent (517) to 13.3 per cent (637) between 2014 and 2015.

"We're seeing levels of distress, specifically anxiety and depression, increase," said Dr. Robbie Babins-Wagner, CEO. 

"This is a clear indicator that there are thousands in the community feeling strained due to the economy."

More people asking for help

The centre received 915 requests for service last month — the highest in its 53-year history. It's a sign of how much the economic downturn is weighing on the mental health of those impacted, said Babins-Wagner.

"Every time somebody comes in they fill out a questionnaire, which is kind of like a mental health vital sign questionnaire," she said.

"We have been using this since 2004, and we've seen an increase in people's distress, which is consistent with the increase that we're seeing in people who have been laid off or are unemployed due to current economic circumstances."

"There are all kind of ramifications for family," Babins-Wagner added. "We see in times of distress like this that couple conflict increases. So, this puts tremendous stress on relationships and on families." 

Since oil prices began falling in November 2014, the centre has seen a 30-per cent increase in requests for service. 


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