Atlantic Canadians Feel Less Empathetic Post-COVID: CMHA Study

A new study by the Canadian Mental Health Association and the University of British Columbia suggests Atlantic Canadians may be experiencing “empathy fatigue.”

The association says feelings of empathy, the ability to understand one’s perspective and feelings, have eroded during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Figures show only 15 per cent of Atlantic Canadians feel empathetic. National numbers stand at 13 per cent, which is significantly lower than pre-COVID when the number sat at 23 per cent.

The study also found 36 per cent of Atlantic Canadians are as worried about lost social connections and being separated from friends and family as they are about getting sick with COVID-19.

In addition, 35 per cent of Atlantic Canadians experienced a decline in their mental health since the pandemic began.

“While mental health in New Brunswick is always at a critical stage, the pandemic has exacerbated people’s mental health; let’s show empathy towards each other and tune in before we weigh in,” said Christa Baldwin, executive director of the CMHA’s New Brunswick chapter, in the news release.

“When we can pause before reacting … and instead take the time to understand different perspectives, we will move to healthier homes, workplaces, communities and schools.”

The release of the study coincides with the CMHA’s 71st annual Mental Health Week, which takes place from May 2 to 8.

This year’s theme is the importance of empathy.

If you or someone you know is struggling, there are resources available.

Canada Suicide Prevention Service — 1-833-456-4566

Wellness Together Canada — Free, 24/7 mental health and substance use resources