COVID-19 vaccines providing much needed mental health boost after troublesome year

They’re becoming increasingly common online — people’s COVID-19 vaccine happy dances, for lack of a better term.

Be it fist-pumping through the sunroof while in line at the Regina drive-thru vaccination clinic, or dancing to Bhangra in the Yukon post-immunization, many are taking to social media to express their excitement at getting their first or second dose.

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One mental health expert says she isn’t surprised to see the exuberance after over a year in a pandemic.

“Seeing some kind of light at the end of the tunnel becomes really important for any kind of recovery,” said University of Regina social work professor and mental health researcher Nuelle Novik.

“Hope, really, can be the catalyst for starting that change process and starting to recover in many ways.”

Novik is a researcher with the Saskatchewan Population Health & Evaluation Research Unit (SPHERU).

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In April, SPHERU recently published data on what it calls “extraordinary disruptions to all aspects of human lives” and “profound impacts on mental health” brought on by the pandemic.

Novik says the research found that anxiety and depression have increased over the past year.

She says the increase was most noticeable among women aged 18-34.

“The pandemic impacts us directly, because of that fear and because of the worry of getting the virus, and the second way it affects our mental health is indirectly, because of the restrictions and because of the disruptions,” she said.

Novik also pointed out that 12 per cent of people she interviews as part of her unit’s research indicated they believed they didn’t have access to mental health support resources.




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