The impact of COVID-19 on everyday life, which has been going on for nearly eleven months now in Saskatchewan, has certainly taken a toll on people mentally. Few people understand this better than those at Envision Counselling and Support Centre, who have been dealing with the fallout of it.
The centre has seen so many people come through their doors or calling their helplines lately that they're calling the situation a mental health crisis. Nearly eleven months of pandemic conditions, including shutdowns or limitations of many leisure activities and stress over jobs and businesses, have put a lot of people in a dark place.
"There is really a mental health crisis going on," said resource development coordinator Tania Andrist. "People are really struggling. I mean, all the programs, all of Envision Counselling's programs are seeing huge increases in usage."
Envision isn't the only group that's noticed this rise in mental health struggles, though in the southeast they are the ones who deal with the most aspects of it. They also talk with counselors elsewhere and have gotten the same sense from them that they get from their own staff.
"We get a lot of referrals from mental health in our community and we know that mental health is straining," Andrist said. "We know that the school counselors are straining."
Andrist couldn't speak to a nation-wide mental health crisis, but she also said the crisis extends well beyond the southeast. Across Saskatchewan, it seems calls for counseling and mental health assistance are up, and smaller counseling services are often taking the brunt of it
"We have good communications with our provincial health services," she said. "They're referring a lot of mental health cases to local agencies like us or in Regina. They're trying to find other places to provide help. The numbers are very high, and the problems are big. It's not just, 'Oh, we're fighting with our kid,' we're talking really big problems, we're talking suicide, we're talking abuse."
Andrist added addiction numbers rising are another sign of mental health concerns in the province. She also said that once you're in a mental health crisis isn't easy to get out of as a province once you're into one.
Envision Counselling and Support Centre has offices in Estevan, Weyburn, Carlyle, and Oxbow. Their number in Estevan is 637-4004, and they arrange counseling services both over the phone and in person, as well as walk-in counseling.