According to statistics released by the Delta Police Department, mental health calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic are on the rise.
DPD Chief Neil Dubord first made reference to the higher call volumes at a City of Delta virtual town hall held on Tuesday, Oct. 13. He noted the week had been a busy one, nearly 500 calls logged with a significant portion of them dealing with mental health issues.
“We find that when people get together in small families, when they have been isolated for a period of time, we're finding that the mental health issue seems to be going up and the anxiety continues within the communities that we're working in right now,” Dubord said.
DPD say in the first nine months of 2020 there have been 1,896 calls for service where officers have believed a mental health component was involved. Calls range from having to apprehend an individual under the Mental Health Act to a disturbance call where someone is showing signs of anxiety or depression.
Compared to the same timeframe last year, the number of mental health related calls to the DPD has risen by just over 11 per cent.
The past two months and into October though there has been an uptick in mental health related calls with a COVID-19 component. These include calls where a person is threatening suicide or is expressing suicidal thoughts, family arguments sparked in some way by the pandemic and well-being checks where someone is concerned how an individual is dealing with COVID-19.
In an email to the Optimist, DPD spokesperson Cris Leykauf noted that it seems the mental health related calls officers are dealing with appear to be more serious in nature.
Insp. Ciaran Feenan added that front line officers are observing a form of COVID-19 fatigue in the community.
“People are using alcohol to cope, and they’re struggling,” Feenan said. “We know it’s tough, but I think we all now need to do our part and keep our bubbles small to get our numbers down.”
Public assistance for people who have been victims of crime or trauma can find help through DPD’s Victim Services at: https://deltapolice.ca/community-services/victim-services/ as well as the Canadian Mental Health Association at: https://cmha.ca/.