A Winnipeg community health centre says it has seen a small increase in calls during the COVID-19 pandemic — about 10 a day — but that the number of callers with coronavirus-related anxiety has increased dramatically.
Nicole Chammartin, executive director of Klinic Community Health, told 680 CJOB that while 20 per cent of the centre’s calls lately have been specifically related to COVID-19, callers to Klinic’s crisis line have almost universally referenced the virus in one way or another.
“One of the things we noticed, looking at our stats, is that even when it’s not the primary reason people are calling, the word COVID comes up on almost every single call now,” Chammartin said.
“A lot of folks, they’ve been dealing with anxiety. It’s a more pressing anxiety.
“We’re definitely seeing people who are isolated more… people with relationship challenges,” Chammartin said. “It’s hard to be locked down sometimes with someone else.”
Those relationships, she said, can sometimes be more than just frustrating. Self-isolation has increased the risk for people experiencing domestic violence.
“There’s still shelter resources… you can still reach out to crisis lines,” she said. “We need to make sure people are safe.”
Klinic isn’t the only local health centre trying to offer help to people anxious over the new coronavirus.
The Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba launched its own support line on Monday for people dealing with increased stress due to the crisis.
“People with anxiety disorders at this time are going to be feeling even more anxious than normal because of all of the uncertainty that’s going on,” the association’s executive director, Mary Williams, told Global News.
“It’s open to people with anxiety disorders but also people who are experiencing anxiety.”
Chammartin said Winnipeggers are really feeling the pressure of learning how to cope with a rapidly changing new lifestyle as public health officials urge people to practise social distancing.
For those who are completely self-isolated — who live alone, are working from home and may go long periods of time without seeing another person — there are a lot of local online resources. The Winnipeg Public Library’s digital services, the Assiniboine Park Zoo’s virtual spaces and livestreamed concerts are all ways to connect with the outside world.
It’s important, however, to limit your exposure to the 24-7 onslaught of COVID-19 news, Chammartin said — especially if you’re already feeling anxiety about the pandemic.
“We try and remind people really regularly… don’t spent all of your time consuming social media and media specifically about COVID,” she said.
“We need a balance, so set the amount of media that you’re going to take in a day and maybe set a limit around that.”
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