Over the past two years, isolation, social distancing, financial burdens, unexpected death of loved ones related to COVID, and the continuous fear of the unknown have severely impacted Canadians’ mental health. In fact, close to half of our population is stressed or worried about the uncertainty, and one in four Canadians aged 18 and older are experiencing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD).
With mental health conditions on the rise, there’s a lot of talk around how and where to get support. But where does one start, and what does an effective approach really look like?
TELUS Health Care Centres take a personalized approach to mental health care. They take many factors into account when deciding on a customized approach for each individual, as there are various treatments and services available, including innovative options for treatment-resistant depression, like rTMS and esketamine.
To learn more about what’s going on in the minds of Canadians and this personalized approach, we spoke to Dr. Mahnaz Salsali, Psychiatrist (MD, PhD, FRCPC), who says that not knowing where to go for help only makes the problem worse.
Dr. Salsali says that since the pandemic, there’s been an increase in self-reported levels of anxiety and depression — especially among young people — including 23% of Canadians reporting high levels of anxiety and 15% of Canadians reporting high levels of depression.
“Loneliness and uncertainty have been big factors,” Dr. Salsali tells Daily Hive. “Also not knowing where to go for help makes the problem worse. First, you are lonely, feeling isolated, needing support — but not knowing where to get [it], or what kind of support will work, can make trying to address the problem really daunting.”
But Dr. Salsali claims that even the knowledge that help is available can make all the difference. “Think of a safety net. Even if you don’t end up using it, the fact that you know it’s there — knowing that there is hope and that there are places that provide support and treatment — can bring a sense of security and comfort.”
While there is much more open dialogue today about mental health conditions than there was five years ago, there is still a gap that remains on how to adequately address them. We’ve learned more in recent years about the need for treatments to differ based on the individual, and how our physical health is connected to our mind. Chronic pain and depression have often gone hand in hand, and studies have shown the link between previously unexplained physical pain and underlying mood disorders.
With every person’s health unique to them, nothing should be overlooked when reviewing methods of care. This is why personalization is so important, and why TELUS Health and Dr. Salsali advocate for this approach.
So, how does holistic and personalized mental health care work, exactly? “A personalized approach means someone is actively listening to you and your mental and physical health concerns,” says Dr. Salsali. “Human connection, compassion, and empathy are all so important in mental health care. Interestingly, human connection is also what we missed during the pandemic, and why loneliness [and] isolation were so prevalent. ”
Personalized treatment, according to TELUS Health, involves looking at physical factors that play a role in someone’s well-being, and using science-based treatment methods accordingly. It also considers other factors that may play a role including diet, physical activity, any underlying conditions, pain management, sleep, and so on. At TELUS Health’s specialized mental health clinics, a treatment plan is made specifically for the client — and the care operates on the knowledge that mental health exists on a continuum.
“There are so many factors that come into play when it comes to mental well-being — everyone’s story is different,’ says Dr. Salsali. “As a result, their treatment should be too. What works for one person may not work for someone else. There’s no ‘one-size-fits-all.'”
Ultimately, Dr. Salsali acknowledges that aside from how discouraging it can be to try different treatments and medications, especially for someone struggling with treatment-resistant depression (TRD), there is always hope; there are options out there — such as Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (rTMS) and esketamine — both of which are available at TELUS Health’s mental health clinics.
The TELUS Health Care Centres offer mental health services in Calgary, Edmonton, and Vancouver, and feature a multidisciplinary team of specialists — including physicians, psychologists, registered counsellors, dietitians, and other healthcare professionals. They use innovative technology, research, and facilities to treat mental health with the same importance as physical health. Services are provided in-person, remotely, or virtually 24/7.
“Support is available. Human connection is key,” says Dr. Salsali. “Talk to your friends, see them in person, chat over the phone. There is a lot to be gained from real conversations that you may not be able to gain through text or social media.”