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

An Extinction Rebellion Vancouver Island (XRVI) climate change event in 2019 saw a large crowd occupy the Johnson Street bridge. Black Press File Photo
Extinction Rebellion activists march from Vancouver to Victoria this weekend

The four-day trek ends at the B.C. legislature Monday, protest province’s environmental policy

A rider crosses a “skinny” on the newly opened trail known as 90s Jank, built within the Hartland system by volunteers with the South Island Mountain Bike Society. (Youtube/MTB Matt)
Mountain bikers celebrate first new trail in years on Saanich’s Mount Work

90s Jank trail a product of licence agreement between CRD and mountain bike society

The hiring of out-of-province workers by the Canadian Red Cross to staff the vaccination centre in Langford has raised eyebrows. (Black Press Media file photo)
Red Cross hires out-of-province workers to staff Langford vaccination centre

Staffer worries local jobs weren’t offered to local people

A weekend of sunny skies may have Victoria breaking temperature records, according to an Environment Canada meteorologist. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Temperature records eyed for Victoria with sunny weekend forcast

Victoria hit the highest April 14 temperature since 1926 on Wednesday

Fire crews respond to the 3500-block of Blanshard Street in Saanich on April 16. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
UPDATED: BC Hydro crews repairing failed electrical equipment in Saanich

Vernon Avenue reopen to traffic following closure

Rainbow trouts thrashing with life as they’re about to be transferred to the largest lake of their lives, even though it’s pretty small. These rainbows have a blue tinge because they matched the blue of their hatchery pen, but soon they’ll take on the green-browns of their new home at Lookout Lake. (Zoe Ducklow/News Staff)
VIDEO: Lookout Lake stocked with hatchery trout to delight of a seniors fishing club

The Cherish Trout Scouts made plans to come back fishing soon

For Leela Harrop, the recent death of her brother Raju Tiwari pushed her to sign up for the vaccine. Photo supplied
Island woman on fence about vaccine prompted by brother’s death

Leela Harrop of Comox says she did have issues with signing up online this past week

Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. (Dave Eagles/Kamloops This Week file photo)
RCMP intercept vehicle fleeing with infant taken from Kamloops hospital

The baby was at the hospital receiving life-saving care

Vancouver Police Const. Deepak Sood is under review by the Independent Investigations Office of B.C. after making comments to a harm reduction advocate Sunday, April 11. (Screen grab)
VIDEO: Vancouver officer convicted of uttering threats under watchdog review again

Const. Deepak Sood was recorded Sunday saying ‘I’ll smack you’ and ‘go back to selling drugs’ to a harm reduction advocate

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry prepares a daily update on the coronavirus pandemic, April 21, 2020. (B.C. Government)
B.C.’s COVID-19 infection rate persists, 1,005 new cases Friday

Hospitalization up to 425, six more virus-related deaths

The Nautical Dog Cafe at Skaha marina is getting its patio ready in hopes Mother Nature will provide where provincial restrictions have taken away indoor dining. (Facebook)
‘A lot of instability’: B.C. restaurants in layoff limbo

As COVID-19 cases stay high, restaurants in British Columbia are closed to indoor dining

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau looks on as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during a news conference on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Tuesday, Aug. 18, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Expectations high as Trudeau Liberals get ready to unveil first pandemic budget

The Liberals will look to thread an economic needle with Monday’s budget

John Furlong, Own The Podium board chairman and former CEO of the Vancouver Olympics, addresses a Vancouver Board of Trade luncheon in Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday November 25, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
John Furlong presents 2030 Winter Games vision to Vancouver Board of Trade

Vancouver and Whistler would remain among host sites because of 2010 sport venues still operational

Photo by Metro Creative Connection
New campgrounds coming to B.C. parks as part of $83M provincial boost

This season alone, 185 campsites are being added to provincial parks, says Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Most Read