Windsor

Harder for people to mentally 'bounce back' from another lockdown: Windsor-Essex therapist

As Ontarians prepare to enter another strict lockdown, one Windsor-Essex therapist says that it may be harder for people to "bounce back" after this one.

'It's hard to be mindful and hopeful and plan for things'

One therapist says it may be more difficult for people to remain resilient through the second lockdown. (Markus Schwabe/CBC)

As Ontarians prepare to enter another strict lockdown, one Windsor-Essex therapist says that it may be harder for people to "bounce back" after this one. 

Stress, anxiety and loneliness are what many people in Windsor-Essex have been feeling since the start of the pandemic and likely will continue to feel as the province enters a new stay-at-home order Thursday, said Ewelina Horochowik, a therapist with the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex.

Under the new order, people are only supposed to leave their home for essential purposes. With this, many will likely continue to feel "stuck" and disconnected from others, Horochowik said. 

And while many came out of the first lockdown quite easily and remained resilient, it might be harder to recover from this one. 

"That bounce back gets lower and lower and that resiliency gets lower and lower because people have uncertainty of when this will end and that uncertainty is one of the factors where it's hard to be mindful and hopeful and plan for things," she said. "It's hard to stay resilient and especially when we're also compounded with worrying of getting sick ourselves." 

She says throughout the pandemic she has seen a number of new clients, specifically people who are experiencing stress through clinical symptoms of depression and anxiety. What's happening in the world, she said, is making people more vulnerable to these illnesses. 

"[They're] reaching out for the first time and saying 'I don't know what's going on, I can't sleep, I can't focus, can't concentrate, I'm really scared or I'm by myself and I don't see anyone,' so people that wouldn't normally reach out are reaching out which is an indicator that, yeah people's mental health is being definitely affected," she said. 

And pandemic therapist Dana St. Jean, who is also with the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor-Essex, says she's hearing about a lot of COVID fatigue from clients, especially from ones who have strictly followed safety protocols. 

Pandemic therapist for CMHA Windsor-Essex Dana St. Jean says she has heard about COVID-fatigue from clients, specifically those who are following the rules and are frustrated that more keep coming. (Tahmina Aziz/CBC)

"They're saying 'I'm following this, yet now there's another layer, another limitation ... that I have to cope with,'" she said. 

For now, Horochowik said people just need to take care of themselves physically and mentally, in any way they can. 

But, Horochowik warned that it's important people maintain healthy coping mechanisms, noting that turning to alcohol, drugs or our screens can be harmful in excess. 

"Try to be mindful of what your coping strategies are and try to change them so they work better for you in the long-term," she said. 

St. Jean added that people should try not to compare themselves to others, be mindful of their actions and understand what is within their control to better manage their anxiety. 

Stay-at-home order only counts 'if you have a home'

Meanwhile, executive director of Windsor's Downtown Mission, Ron Dunn, says the pandemic is impacting the mental health of the people he serves and his own staff. 

With the new order, Dunn said it "only counts if you have a home." 

Ron Dunn, executive director of the Downtown Mission, says the new order doesn't really apply to him or his staff as they provide a service that people who are experiencing homelessness rely on. (Dale Molnar/CBC)

"I would say the mental health of those that we serve ... is being tested right now for sure," Dunn said, adding that he's seen addictions and overdoses rise as a result of the pandemic in the last 10 months. 

Statistically, he said in 2019 they reversed 35 overdoses and in 2020 they reversed 86.

"We have to [move forward] we have no option but I'd say my staff are tired, they've been tested as much as anyone could imagine they would be."

For people experiencing homelessness, Dunn said the only respite available to them is the Mission or the temporary respite being run by the City of Windsor in the Water Works building during the week. 

Other than that, he said people in Windsor-Essex don't have any other place to go.

 And even when they're at the Mission, they can only stay for 45 minutes, unless they get a spot in its day program, but that caps off at 45 people. 

"They can't necessarily go sit at a restaurant or they can't go sit anywhere else really, so that's the challenge for us and for them mostly understanding that implementing the rules as they get told to us ... is important and we obviously respect that [but] it's very difficult to do in this environment," he said. 

Who to reach out to if you need support

You can call the Canadian Mental Health Association's Windsor-Essex crisis line at (519) 973- 4435. If you are not in crisis, you can still call this number and be transferred. 

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