The next few months of the year will get a bit darker due to the change of seasons. Meanwhile, new health measures are forcing the population to limit their social activities. It is difficult to say if they will be an additional burden on mental health.
As the pandemic continued to distract the public eye, fall quietly arrived on September 22 at 9:31 a.m. Until the onset of winter, the amount of sunshine will gradually decrease. In Montreal, it will drop from about 13:11 to 9:50 by the end of December, according to the calculations of the National Research Center Canada.
“I don’t see a direct relationship between the fact that the days are getting shorter and whether it will undermine people’s emotional health,” believes Dr. Pierre Bleau, national director of mental health and forensic psychiatry services at the Ministry of Health and Human Services. Social services (MSSS).
Autumn and winter also impose lifestyle habits comparable to confinement. “There is a restriction of activities and a decrease in certain modes of activity that are related to that,” says Dr. Bleau.
Psychologist Colette St-Laurent, who has 25 years of practice, offers a similar story. “What I observed among customers who are sensitive [au changement de saison]is that when the days start to get shorter and colder, people start to confine themselves, going outside less, going less in the light of day when there is ”, explains- she.
Even in confinement, “you still have to go out, exercise, walk every day, watch your diet, insists Dr. Bleau. At the end of the day, the major determinants are how people take charge of their emotional health. ”
Metro, work, sleep
The length of a day’s sunshine and the stress caused by the pandemic are having an impact on sleep, says Dr Thanh Dang Vu, director of the Sleep, Cognition and Neuroimaging Research Laboratory.
“Light is an important synchronizer of our biological rhythm, of our day-night rhythm. It allows us to activate our vigilance system ”, underlines Dr Dang Vu.
An imbalance in this routine can lead to additional fatigue.
In confinement, teleworking is favored by many, also disrupting our habits. “It’s important to take breaks from this. We have to look at the basic needs we have, ”says Dr Bleau.
In the spring, the MSSS set up a program to support the population who could be more fragile in confinement. Nearly $ 90 million has been invested to add 300 full-time jobs to increase direct contact with the weaker segment of the population.
The effects of seasonal changes would not be felt in the number of emergency rooms or in the number of hospitalizations, adds Dr. Bleau.
However, some psychologists are nevertheless very busy. Leaving a phone call to the Montreal Anxiety Clinic, the answering machine greets us: “Since the waiting list is too long, it is only open for clients aged 17 to 25 available during the day, ie before 3 pm”, we hear.
Colette St-Laurent has seen an upsurge in calls for a consultation since the beginning of the fall. “It can go up to two or three requests a day,” she says.
This would be higher than in previous years.
Before passing the torch to winter, fall will last a total of 89 days, 20 hours and 31 minutes.