As experts warn of worrying mental health stats, Quebec opposition says long-term plan is needed
QUEBEC CITY -- With restrictions in classroom, less time with friends, and no after-school sports in red zones, provincial officials say young Quebecers are at risk of developing lasting mental health issues.
According to a recent survey from Quebec psychologists, 86 percent of patients have reported increased mental distress.
Seventy per cent have had depressive symptoms, and just over half have had problems with concentration, memory, and attention.
And -- no surprise to many -- 70 per cent of those treated say the increase is directly related to the pandemic.
With lockdowns in Quebec’s red zones extended to November 23, some worry the impacts will last even longer.
After the government announced a new funding plan Wednesday morning, reserving $25 million for mental health programs, the political opposition said it should be bigger, longer-term, more urgent -- they said it won't be enough in the long term.
“Once [young people] have managed to live through this, they'll realize the impact and the weight it had on them,” said Opposition House Leader, Liberal Andre Fortin.
“There's absolutely a mental health crisis -- there has been a mental health crisis for some time now,” he said, “but there's an even bigger one coming.”
“We've called for mental SWAT teams, to go where people are in distress instead of saying, well ... 'we have this phone line and you can call if need be,'” said a member of the legislative Committee on Health and Social Services, Joel Arseneau.
The money announced Wednesday will go largely towards young people, increasing accessibility to their mental health services and those for their families.
“University, CEGEP students who have not been to class are probably as well more affected,” said Health and Social Services Minister Lionel Carmant.
“When you're making your social network and you have to be confined, it's more difficult.”
According to Statistics Canada data, Canadians as a whole have reported increasingly poor mental health since the beginning of the pandemic.
In early summer, 22 per cent of respondents said they were experiencing "poor or fair" states of mental health, up 4 per cent from March.
Anxiety was far more common in young people aged 15 to 24, more than a quarter of whom reported moderate to severe symptoms.
Last week, Montreal Public Health said it found nearly half of patients between the ages of 18 and 25 have suffered anxiety or depression.