COVID-19 pandemic has affected the lives and livelihoods of many people in Canada. Since the pandemic began, many people changed their lifestyle, especially when the curfew was endorsed and social gatherings banned. Parents of children suffering from anxiety, depression, and substance use say the current situation has worsened their symptoms. Sarah Hudson, who lives north of Toronto, is among the many parents with a mental health problem child. Her daughter has selective mutism and autism. She said her daughter had developed despair and anxiety for staying at home for a long time. Hudson said COVID-19 had eliminated most support services, and her daughter was experiencing more severe and violent behavior.
Hudson said so many social places had been shut down, and staying at home only deteriorated the situation. Besides, she said that even getting a therapist for her daughter was a problem. According to Kimberly Moran, the CEO of Children’s Mental Health, the pandemic has worsened the situation. Moran said patients had to wait for almost two years for treatment before the epidemic. So the question is how long the patients will have to wait amid the current crisis.
Another parent identified as Jessica Diamond is facing a similar challenge as Hudson. In an interview, she said her son suffers from severe anxiety, depression and has frequently talked of suicide. At some point, Diamond’s son refused to go to school, and in a worse scenario, he attempted to kill his brother in the middle of the night. Diamond said that she is sometimes forced to sit awake all night to ensure her son is safe.
Diamond said her son started the treatment in March after waiting for so long but later stopped because of COVID-19. She said the only thing she wanted was for her son to be safe, so he took him home. Even though Diamond managed to get her son some mental-health support at school, she fears that he can harm himself or other family members as they are staying with him. What worries Diamond is the fact that she has nowhere to take her son for the required therapies. Her other fear is that every day that he doesn’t get treatment affects his long-term outcome.
Moran said neglecting children with mental health problems can have a lasting impact on decades. Besides, she said the government was dealing with today’s issues and not thinking that these are a whole generation of kids without treatment, whose problems occur throughout their lifetime. Additionally, Moran said the government should seriously take mental health problems the same way they handle COVID-19 because the consequences of not treating the disease are enormous. The parents hope for extra attention and financial support to help put counseling and therapy programs back into full action.
They said that the government should not neglect their children at the expense of the pandemic.