Demand for mental health services has increased during pandemic

Preliminary numbers from the Saskatchewan Coroners Service indicate fewer suicides in 2020 when the pandemic began compared to the year prior.

Not all investigations have been concluded, according to a statistics document from the Coroners Service, but at this point it seems there were 187 suicides in 2020 and 206 in 2019.

From 2005 to the present, the highest rate of suicide was in 2018 with 241.

A Saskatoon psychologist who is on the executive of the Psychology Association of Saskatchewan, Dr. Regan Hart, says if you or someone you know is struggling, you can get a referral from your family doctor or you can self-refer to Community Mental Health and Addictions Services.

Some people may have coverage through their Employee Assistance Program or you can make an appointment with a psychologist in private practice.

If you are concerned about suicide, some of the signs to watch for are that the individual has stopped doing the things they usually enjoy and seems hopeless and full of despair.

That’s when more immediate intervention may be needed.

Dr. Hart says if the risk is imminent, you can contact the police, take the person to the hospital Emergency Department or call the Mobile Crisis Services hotline.

Hart says she and her colleagues have noted an increase in reported symptoms of depression and anxiety, but she believes most people have been resilient in juggling the challenges of the pandemic.

Her advice to lift spirits is to have positive routines for yourself, like exercise and safe, social activities with friends and loved ones.

Mental Health and Addictions Services are available online here and here.

The number to phone Saskatchewan Healthline is 811.

The Canada Suicide Prevention Service number: 1-833-456-4566.

(CJWW)

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