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‘Unemployment pandemic’ traumatic for families

An “unemployment pandemic” caused by the coronavirus outbreak will prove doubly traumatic for families already living from paycheque to paycheque, according to Sandy De Silva, director of services at the charity Family Centre.

Dr De Silva said job loss compared with “the grief of losing a loved one”, from the equivalent stages of shock and denial, to anger and bargaining, and eventually to acceptance and hope.

She added: “Job loss during a pandemic is especially complicated as it may be hard to feel hope anytime soon.”

Dr De Silva said studies had shown that the financial, housing or job-related hardship inflicted by the Great Recession had left people “more vulnerable to mental-health or emotional problems”.

“Our government has acknowledged that the current pandemic will no doubt impact our population's emotional wellbeing.”

A clinical psychologist, Dr De Silva said people coping with loss should focus on what they were able to control.

She added: “As our government also reminds us, hope should be placed on some level of growing economic stability as we move through the next phases.

“It is important that we all support each other and especially our most vulnerable who are struggling to put food on the table. As our Premier notes, no one should go hungry in this country.”

Dr De Silva conceded that empathy and sensitivity would not solve the social and economic troubles “here and ahead of us”.

“But it will help to heal and create a greater chance that we can all get back on our feet as a collective, and not just as individuals.”

She said that many of Family Centre's clients had struggled financially before the pandemic, with the charity now seeing more “struggling to make ends meet”.

Dr De Silva added: “Families who need to access immediate mental-health resources can call the Emotional Wellbeing Hotline at 543-1111 daily from 9am to 9pm.

“Concerned families with children between the ages of 4 to 18 can call Family Centre 232-1116 and leave a message on our main line. This message will be responded to by a screener within 24 hours.”

Family advice: Sandy De Silva

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Published May 13, 2020 at 9:00 am (Updated May 13, 2020 at 8:28 am)

‘Unemployment pandemic’ traumatic for families

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