The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)

The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year. (Black Press Media file photo)

Winter blues a concern for Vancouver Islanders during COVID-19 Christmas season

Statistics show British Columbians anticipate worsening mental health

COVID-19 may exacerbate the mental health strain of the holidays, some health experts warn.

“These next couple of months are going to probably be the hardest,” said Richard Stanwick, chief medical officer at Island Health. “It’s going to be that slogging through and mentally trying to tough it out.”

On Nov. 24, another B.C. record was broken for the number of new COVID-19 cases, with 941 people diagnosed and 10 deaths. Of those new cases, 11 were on Vancouver Island. Last week Premier John Horgan announced he was calling for extensions to the non-essential travel restriction within the province.

As of Nov. 24, a total of 28,348 cases have been recorded in B.C. since the pandemic began.

It’s unclear if those restrictions will last into December, but two thirds of British Columbians predict their mental health will deteriorate in the coming months, according to a survey by the Pacific Blue Cross Health Foundation.

The data also reveals that calls to B.C.’s crisis lines have spiked 27 per cent since the pandemic began, with the number of people reporting poor mental health tripling compared to pre-pandemic times. The Vancouver Island Crisis Society has seen a five per cent rise in call volumes compared to this time last year, with many callers saying they feel anxious and depressed.

READ ALSO: Premier urges B.C. religious leaders to keep celebrations virtual this holiday season

“Now we’re heading into more indoor time, more people who are affected by a lack of light. And then of course on top of that, a holiday season in which we’re probably not going to be able to celebrate in the way that we’re used to,” Stanwick said.

Along with social restrictions, many holiday events are cancelled in Greater Victoria, from Santa Claus parades and Christmas plays to holiday school choirs and winter markets.

But COVID-19 hasn’t put a cap on all seasonal joy. Habitat for Humanity’s Gingerbread Showcase is a go, and a new pandemic-safe, drive-thru light-up show is coming to the Breakwater District at Ogden Point.

“I think we can still look forward to something better,” Stanwick said. “One thing I’m always impressed by is the creativity of our community to find ways to still accomplish, you know, some good things without putting themselves at risk of COVID-19.”

If you are in crisis, reach out for help. The Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre of B.C. offers a crisis line at 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433). The Vancouver Island Crisis Line can be reached at 1-888-494-3888 or 250-754-4447.

READ ALSO: The magic of Christmas returns to the Butchart Gardens


Do you have a story tip? Email: vnc.editorial@blackpress.ca.

Follow us on Twitter and Instagram, and like us on Facebook.

ChristmasChristmas holidayHolidays

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

(Black Press Media file photo)
VicPD arrest man at gunpoint after firearm call

Man faces charges for breaching condition not to possess replica firearms

Port Renfrew Fire Chief Dan Kuzman, left, and Juan de Fuca Electoral Area Director Mike Hicks, separated by two fishing rods for safe pandemic physical distancing, display the village’s new snowplowing unit. (Contributed)
Port Renfrew gets new snowplow

With equipment, CRD crew can clear roads following snowfall

Sooke’s Amy McLaughlin holds Theodore, a bunny who will be going to a new owner in Nanaimo within the coming days if all goes will at an upcoming bunny play-date. (Aaron Guillen/News Staff)
Sooke woman looking to hop into bigger space for bunny business

Amy McLaughlin has rescued over 400 bunnies across the Island, mainland

Jerry Dyck plans to purchase a new RV to drive across Canada in, once it’s safe to travel again. (Courtesy BCLC)
Victoria man plans post-pandemic cross-Canada RV trip after $2M lottery win

Retired electrician bought the winning ticket in Duncan

Crews with Discovery Channel film as an Aggressive Towing driver moves a Grumman S2F Tracker aircraft around a 90-degree turn from its compound and onto the road on Saturday, Jan. 23, 2021. It was the “most difficult” part of the move for the airplane, one organizer said. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress)
VIDEO: Vintage military plane gets towed from Chilliwack to Greater Victoria

Grumman CP-121 Tracker’s eventual home the British Columbia Aviation Museum on Vancouver Island

Rolling seven-day average of cases by B.C. health authority to Jan. 21. Fraser Health in purple, Vancouver Coastal red, Interior Health orange, Northern Health green and Vancouver Island blue. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
Second doses delayed as B.C. vaccine delivery delayed again

New COVID-19 cases slowing in Fraser Health region

The Pacific Rim National Park Reserve is urging visitors to stay on designated trails after a hiker became injured in an unsanctioned area last week. (Westerly file photo)
Injured hiker rescued in Pacific Rim National Park Reserve

“Safety is everyone’s responsibility.”

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry talk about the next steps in B.C.’s COVID-19 Immunization Plan during a press conference at Legislature in Victoria, B.C., on Friday, January 22, 2021. Two more cases of the COVID-19 strain first identified in South Africa have been diagnosed in British Columbia, bringing the total to three as of Jan. 16.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chad Hipolito
B.C. now has three cases of South African COVID-19 variant, six of U.K. strain

Both variants are thought to spread faster than earlier strains

OPINION SIG
SOOKE HISTORY: Milne’s Landing CNR station

Elide Peers | Contributed Back in the 1920s, freight was often carried… Continue reading

Rodney and Ekaterina Baker in an undated photo from social media. The couple has been ticketed and charged under the Yukon’s <em>Civil Emergency Measures Act</em> for breaking isolation requirements in order to sneak into a vaccine clinic and receive Moderna vaccine doses in Beaver Creek. (Facebook/Submitted)
Great Canadian Gaming CEO resigns after being accused of sneaking into Yukon for vaccine

Rod Baker and Ekaterina Baker were charged with two CEMA violations each

Police discovered a makeshift nightclub in a Vancouver apartment on Jan. 23, 2021, and say it wasn’t the first time this month officers have been called to the unit over social gathering concerns. (Phil McLachlan - Capital News)
Doorman of makeshift ‘booze-can’ in Vancouver apartment fined; police look to court order

This marks the fourth complaint about social gatherings inside the apartment in January

Local musician and artist Daisy Melville created a watercolour portrait of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders from the recent American inauguration, and with help from her mom, is now selling t-shirts and more with funds going to the Comox Valley Food Bank. Image submitted
Island artist turns Sanders inauguration meme into art for good

All proceeds from the sale of shirts, sweaters and more will go to the Comox Valley Food Bank

A Kelowna couple welcomed their Nooner baby in December. (Flytographer)
Kelowna couple welcomes baby girl from Hotel Zed Nooner campaign

Nicole and Alex will now have 18 years of free stays at the hotel

Most Read