Before COVID-19 Canadians saw a dangerously high increase in depression cases in people across Canada. According to Stat Canada, in 2018 about 5.3 million people had some form of mental health issue, and about half of those people had some form of help with it. COVID-19’s impact on mental health was so great that the number of depression cases almost doubled. About one in four Canadians are reportedly suffering from depression and anxiety high enough to need help from 2021-2022.
Source: Statistics Canada
In a survey done by Mental Health Research Canada, they found that around 23 percent of Canadians had high levels of anxiety and 15 percent had high levels of depression. Before COVID-19, levels held at around four to five percent making anxiety rates increase by four to five times.
What Are the Major Causes?
There are many factors that can cause an increase in anxiety and depression in someone especially related to COVID-19. Some of the following include:
- Death or loss of a loved one. This causes someone to have an increase in sadness and can lead to depression
- Contracting an illness. This can put a lot of stress and anxiety on not only the recipient but the people around them
- Loss of job. Losing your job means losing your safety net of a stable income. This can increase caused by sudden change can cause high levels of anxiety.
Source: Mental Health Research Canada
What Depression May Look Like
Cameron Mohanathas is a 24-year-old man currently struggling with depression after losing his job during COVID-19 lockdowns last year like many other Canadians. “I was recently laid off during covid and have been out of work for over a year now. I also struggle with paying back school loans because of my lack of employment.”
Cameron is also in the unique position of being a store owner with his father and also expressed hardships with not having indoor dining.
“Before I had my job, I helped my Dad with his restaurant but it was very strenuous for us because we had opened it just before Covid happened and it just wasn't a fun time all around.”
Restaurants all around Canada had to close due to COVID-19 lockdowns with many of them having to close permanently. A survey done by Restaurants Canada found that Canadians working in the food sector had laid off over 800,000 workers and closed 10% of restaurants permanently.
Bryce Bielza is a 22-year-old who dropped out of Toronto Metropolitan university due to the stresses of COVID-19 and now suffers from depression. “I feel like I am worthless and a waste of space. I struggle to do anything and have a massive lack of motivation. I got into university with high marks and earned a scholarship and I wasted it being depressed.”
Men suffering from depression often face challenges when seeking help or talking to someone. Because of the male stigma behind showing emotions, men often decide that it’s better to hide their feelings away to either not look weak or feel bad to bother someone about their thoughts.
Male Toxicity Role in Mental Health
When asked about the male stigma, Bryce said “male toxicity, in my opinion, is why depression is so prominent in many young males whether we like to admit it or not. Everything from the media that’s consumed to how emotions are treated by boys from a young age has an effect on male toxicity.” and “When you’re a kid growing up, if a girl cried they would be pampered and cuddled but if a boy cried they would be labeled a crybaby.”
Source: Mental Health Research Canada
Sadly toxic masculinity is very prominent in young men today and even though most men acknowledge that it is an issue in society, it does not make it any easier for boys to seek help. This leads to men having a high level of anxiety and depression overall. To cope with these feelings, boys often look for ways to self-medicate to ease the pain. Bryce said this when asked about self-medicating. “I have been self-medicating to help cope with my feelings, I use vape pens almost daily, I drink with friends almost every week and I have to take harder drugs such as molly (ecstasy) and acid (Lysergic acid diethylamide/LSD) but on very few occasions. Vaping helps me feel calmer if I start having anxiety or feel low. My depression would randomly occur in waves. For example, I can be out with my friends and then randomly crash into a depressive state. That's where things like my vape or alcohol help me.”
How to Help
Amy Persaud a Ph.D. student at the Holy Family University for Counseling Psychology had this to say when describing male stigma and how to help “The stigma surrounding depression in men is the main reason why it remains so prominent in many of their lives. It’s seen as a sign of weakness to show emotions and men choose to hide them away because of it, causing them to feel worse. If you know someone who is struggling with depression, as little as just listening to them has shown to go a long way”
Amy says that in most cases, having a safe place or person to talk to is the best way to help someone dealing with depression. She says it is important to be patient and don’t force them to talk because it may make them pull away. Men often don’t want to seek out professional help which means being available for healthy dialogue helps in most situations and contributes to eliminating the need for antidepressants which are addictive if taken often.