In this environment of “fake news” an unprecedented division between the left and right in America, world leaders have been forced to respond and react to COVID-19 by literally shutting down and/or dramatically altering the normal day-to-day functions of their societies. Never before in history has the entire world population been so universally affected by any single occurrence.

And, what is that occurrence exactly?

There is no question that a new virus, called COVID-19, emerged in China sometime in late 2019 and quickly spread causing sickness and death around the world. That statement I believe virtually everyone could agree on. Beyond that, there are literally a plethora of “facts” that have been propagated on us by “experts”, interpreted by other “experts” who then advised our political leaders who took unprecedented and dramatic steps to “protect” us all and “save lives”.

Only time and extensive research and analysis over many years will tell us what the actual facts were and how we did in our, for the most part, well-intentioned responses and reactions to an unprecedented world-wide crisis.

To coin the current phrase, we may indeed find out that there were many aspects of this pandemic, and our response to it, that were indeed “fake”. To call it a “fake” pandemic at this stage is certainly a stretch, AND that headline DID get your attention!

So what do I mean by the “real” pandemic?

The US Surgeon General declared mental health challenges an epidemic in America. The UK has created a Ministry of Loneliness after determining that loneliness is an epidemic in that country. Research shows that at least one in five and in some countries one in four people suffer from mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, addiction and chronic stress to the extent that they require treatment. It is now commonly accepted science that up to 75% of hospital visits point to the effects of stress and other mental health issues as the underlying cause.

The Mental Health Commission of Canada’s Annual Report (2018-2019) 12 stresses that –

  • One in five people will experience a mental health problem or illness in any given year overshadowing the prevalence of heart disease and diabetes combined.
  • This figure equates to 20% of the Canadian population, approximately 7.1 million individuals; or the population of the 15 largest Canadian cities combined.
  • One in two Canadians under the age of 40 will experience a mental health problem or illness by the time they turn 40 years of age.
  • These numbers have a direct impact on the workplace, as every week 500,000 Canadians are unable to work due to mental health problems or illnesses.
  • Two-thirds of Canadian adults spend 60% of their waking hours at work.
  • Seven out of ten people in Canada are concerned about the psychological safety of their workplace.
  • By better managing workplace mental health, organizations can reduce productivity losses by up to 30%.

As anyone who has worked from home knows, and many have been experiencing this for the first time over the past three months, there are a whole new set of stresses around the home office experience.

Suicide alone, just one of the deadly effects of the mental health pandemic, is on the rise and is the 8th leading cause of death in Canada. When you combine it with opioid and other overdose deaths, a case can be made that mental health issues are a leading cause of death, especially among young people.

So whether we call it the “real” pandemic or at least the “other pandemic”, the mental health crisis, particularly in the western world, has CERTAINLY been exacerbated by COVID-19. And the big irony is that purely from a medical health perspective, there is a general consensus that chronic stress can be a direct cause of weakened immunity… to guess what… viruses!

So, literally trillions of dollars have been deployed in the past 120 days to address COVID-19. Less that 10% of our health care spending in North America is deployed to address mental health issues, and less than 1% toward PREVENTATIVE mental health initiatives.

~ Randy Lennon, Founder of The Questions Experience, author of The Dirty Words: Change Your Language, Change Your Life