NewsLack of supports, stigma remain major hurdles when tackling mental health in the north SHARE ON: Brendan Pawliw, staff Monday, May. 3rd, 2021 (Photo supplied by Pixabay)77% of adults across the country are feeling negative emotions due to COVID-19.That’s according to a joint study between UBC and the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) on the emotional impact of the pandemic for Mental Health Week.Mary Lu Spagrud with the CMHA’s Prince George branch told MyPGNow.com people living in rural and remote communities in the north often face increased challenges to find the right level of support.“You know, we have communities that might be six or eight hours away from the closest hospital and that hospital might not have mental health services. So, having to come into Prince George or another centre in the north, taking people away from home and their support systems.”“We have long waiting lists up here in the north and a lot of communities are struggling for physicians, councillors and a lot of preventative work and a lot of the time it becomes that crisis response, which is great to have but we need to have those resources to do that pre-work.”She adds the stigma around mental health often leads to people bottling up their emotions and sometimes turning to substance use in order to cope.“Not talking about doesn’t work. People will find methods that will work for them even if it’s a method that could actually harm them. That immediacy is something that we all struggle for and all want but sometimes the things that we do to make us feel better, in the long run, can actually mess us up.”Overall, 41% of Canadians surveyed reported a decline in their mental health since the pandemic began.However, there is a hint of good news in that the majority of Canadians polled (79%) say they are coping fairly well with the stress of the pandemic by going for walks, exercising outside, maintain a healthy lifestyle or connecting virtually with friends or family.“That is part of that resilence where we are able to face challenges and situations such as the pandemic and come out impacted but maybe come out a little better for it. You might learn some new skills or new connections.”“Everything about who we are and how we behave is impacted by our mental health. We are seeing these increasing numbers about our mental health, struggles with anxiety and feelings of anger and frustration,” added Spagurd.Canadians are also reporting a 57% spike in screen time during the pandemic.