Dr. Juveria Zaheer is a Clinician Scientist at the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and Education Administrator at the Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan Emergency Department at CAMH. In addition to her work as a front line psychiatrist at the CAMH ED, she has also authored several papers on suicide in recent years, including an analysis of suicide notes.
What I worry about is what I saw in the first wave of patients at the emergency department after the pandemic started – the vulnerable people without housing or who are in traumatic situations or who are just leaving jail. People whose care and supports are being disrupted.
Those who are dealing with mental illness for the first time may not trust how they are feeling. I am always trying to remind people that it is normal to feel scared or worried at a time like this, but it is not normal to not want to get out of bed. It’s not normal to feel hopeless for the future. It’s not normal to ever have thoughts of suicide.
If we as a society are finally understanding the incredible importance of mental health, and how deeply isolation and fear can impact us, my hope is that means we can build a better society where mental health can be at the forefront and we could have a system that works for everybody.
That would be the best possible outcome from this.