Islanders’ mental health takes heavy COVID-19 hit
A BC-wide “COVID-19 SPEAK” survey of people’s experiences during the pandemic has confirmed what many Vancouver Island residents already know – mental health has taken a significant hit.
COVID-19 SPEAK (a “Survey of Population, Experience, Actions and Knowledge) was conducted by the BC Centre for Disease Control in May. Almost 400,000 citizens responded.
Data from the survey was just released and shows that 46 per cent of Islanders reported worsening mental health as a result of the pandemic.
Younger populations were especially hard hit with 54 per cent of people between the ages of 18 and 29 experiencing deteriorating mental health. The same was true for 53 per cent of people aged 30 to 39, and 50 per cent of people aged 40 to 49. Only 29 per cent of people aged 80 and over reported the same.
Numbers were also higher for women, households with children and people with lower incomes.
The data also showed mental health was the most likely to have worsened for people who identified as West Asian/Arab at 55 per cent, followed by Latin American/Hispanic at 52 per cent and white at 46 per cent.
An even greater number of respondents said they found thoughts about the pandemic consuming, with 59 per cent of Islanders reporting thinking about COVID-19 much of the time. Again, this number was higher for women at 64 per cent while 53 per cent of men reported feeling this way.
A third of people said they felt in control, while 22 per cent said they felt helpless. The percentage of those feeling in control was significantly lower for people who identified at West Asian/Arab at 17 per cent. Respondents who identified as Black led those feeling helpless at 32 per cent, followed by South Asian at 30 per cent and West Asian/Arab at 28 per cent.
Financial stress and reduced social connections also weighed heavy on Islanders.
Nearly 38 per cent of respondents expressed stress about their future financial situation and 29 per cent about their current one. Younger populations, households with children and people with lower incomes reported especially high financial stress.
More than 42 per cent of Islanders reported they were connecting with their family less and 62 per cent said they were connecting with their friends less.
Despite it all, the data shows that COVID-19 may have brought Islanders together. Nearly 67 per cent of respondents said they felt a strong sense of community belonging.
A complete breakdown of the province-wide results can be found on the B.C. COVID-19 SPEAKS Survey dashboard.