COVID-19 fears take a toll young people’s mental health

Mar 17, 2020 | Features, News

People walk through Toronto Pearson International Airport on Monday. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)
Sydnee Walcott

The recent measures taken to help combat the COVID-19 outbreak has taken a toll on people’s mental health as helplines see a spike in phone calls over the concern of the virus.

Shoppers at Superstore buy paper towel and toilet paper in Vancouver on March 2. Across the country, stores are seeing more panic-buying over COVID-19 fears. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

Having concern about the outbreak is considered normal, but with the adjustments that Canadians have to make due to sudden disruptions, such as workers being sent home and schools being closed, there is a risk of overreacting which can lead to an inability to function, compulsive panic-buying or even self-harm.

Megan Van Massenhoven, the Outreach Manager for the Kids Help Phone hotline, said there has been an increase in people reaching out to the hotline with their texting services doubling in conversations yesterday.

“We’ve seen a 350 per cent increase in young people reaching out and students with fears related to COVID-19,” said Van Massenhaven.

She said most of the calls the hotline has been receiving in regards to the outbreak are young people who worried about being isolated/alone.

“We really want to remind students that we’re always here for whatever they need,” said Van Massenhaven.

Van Massenhaven has encouraged those who need to use line to text them as the wait times are shorter and also for those who are in a house with a lot people and don’t feel comfortable having a phone conversation, texting will be a better option for them.

“We just want to promote the texting service the texting service because it’s a bit more accessible right now for the situation a lot of students are finding themselves in,” said Van Massenhaven.

Students in need can text GOOD2TALK at the Kids Help Phone hotline at 686868.

And students who would prefer a phone call, the hotline is 1-866-925-5454.

The Kids Help Phone also has a page on their website specifically to help those who are worried about the outbreak.

For Humber students who are worried about the pandemic, and need someone to talk to, the Kids Help Phone hotline is always available 24/7. Humber College has also suggested for students who are struggling to reach out to Therapy Assist Online.