More needs, but fewer mental health services

Announcement of new health restrictions in the wake of the rise of the Omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus puts further strain on mental health resources as the holiday season approaches, just as the holiday season approaches. heartbreaking choices due to the shortage of employees.

The West Island Crisis Center, located in the Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough, will have no other choice but to close its doors from December 24 to January 3 due to a lack of acute staff. “I am really short of staff. I have lots of people in [congé de] disease ”, explains to Duty the centre’s general manager, Christine Richard, which currently has 15 workers, half the usual number. The closure of the establishment for ten days thus became inevitable to allow these employees, exhausted by dint of working for two, to rest a little.

“We take it very seriously”, however, assures Mme Richard, who indicates that during this closure, people in need will be referred to other resources, especially the community.

“Something must absolutely happen”, presses the president of the Regroupement des services d ‘intervention de développement du Québec, RoxaneThibeault. She calls for better funding for crisis centers by the Quebec government, especially since their mission is to reduce hospitalizations related to mental health problems. “And if there is one thing that must be done right now, it is to avoid sending people to hospitals,” she pleads.

In an email sent to Duty Friday, the Ministry of Health and Social Services indicates that “work is underway” to improve the funding of crisis centers in Quebec, a file which is taken “very seriously”.

Increased pressure

Meanwhile, several mental health resources foresee an increase in demand due to the health restrictions announced Thursday evening by the Legault government. After months of calm marked by the relaxation of sanitary measures against COVID-19, the announcement of the increase from 20 to 10 in the number of people who can gather indoors during the Holidays, of the postponement of a few days of the start of the high school year and the return of reduced capacity in businesses has brought back painful memories for many.

“We had a lull because there was hope, a feeling of normalcy that was starting to be built on a daily basis. But now, we have a shadow of a return to conditions of insecurity, fear, anxiety and possible confinement ”, illustrates the Duty professor at the Department of Psychology at UQAM Ghayda Hassan.

Mme Thibeault also mentions having received several calls in his crisis center, located in Chateauguay, “immediately after the conference” from Mr. Legault, Thursday evening. Several people said they were discouraged to be “excluded” from gatherings planned during the holiday season, in particular.

“What I hear from all the crisis centers and stakeholders is weariness, discouragement,” she adds.

“I think there have been post-traumatic reactions in many people”, also notes the clinical psychologist Nathalie Plaat, who notes an increase in calls to her clinic in Sherbrooke since Thursday.

“People are reaching the end of their adaptive resources,” says the psychologist, who is also a columnist at the Duty. During the holidays, she adds, citizens generally feel a “hope of release” after months of hard work. “And there, it’s as if we were deprived of that when we need it most,” she continues. Many people therefore feel a feeling of psychological exhaustion.

“We will not be at all surprised if in two or three weeks, we see an increase in requests for our services,” said the director of health and addictions programs at the CIUSSS de l’Ouest-de-l’Île-de. -Montreal, Amine Saadi, who expects the situation to be more severe “after the Holidays”.

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