Upon seeing millions suffering under the Covid-19 pandemic, there are two types of reactions: those who see only the loss and shut down, hiding inside (or behind anger), and those who see an opportunity. An opportunity to do good yes—and to make a difference—but also to make money. Because they know they have answers available to the many unexpected problems surrounding the long lasting epidemic. From providers of mental health care at a distance like Beacon or developers of immunity and stress combating mushroom based elixirs like Rritual, these companies showcase the brightness of innovation in dark times.
The long (hidden) arm of Covid-19 reaches unexpected mental health vulnerabilities
Even as the vaccine starts to spread throughout the country, we are still struggling to understand the full range of health consequences that Covid-19 can have on the human body. We fear the very worst cases and long term effects, fail to understand exactly what determines how it will affect a patient, and now dread the arrival of more virulent or harmful variants of the disease. All this adds up to a staggering strain on the health care system, but we are also suffering through a less visible secondary victim: our mental health.
Stress and anxiety are like mushrooms popping up after the rain, distinct iterations of a deep rooted network of problems. Anxiety and stress echo their more dangerous cousins, anger and fear, but are far harder to track and potentially more debilitating as they build up in the long term. The sources of such strains are just as varied as their effects too: many Canadians have had to face the loss of loved ones without the comfort of a traditional funeral gathering while others are dealing with unprecedented levels of social isolation. Problems which millions are facing alongside economic fragility. The burdens Covid-19 have brought are multitude, and are hard to predict or understand, much less fight.
It is not just our personal wellbeing and mental fitness that are adversely affected either. But the very systems we have built up to help safeguard our mental health are under threat as well. Therapists are wary of, or unable to, organize in person meetings and you can forget group therapy. Relaxed social gatherings and many forms of calming entertainment and other positive emotions (or safe outlets for negative one) are off limits entirely. We are forced to choose between wellbeing and illness, a choice which only adds to the stress.
But we are not alone in our suffering, many have noticed, and some have even begun to work on solutions which can help us rebuild our fragile mental fitness.
Innovation in mental health spaces sparks under Covid-19 pressures
While much noise has been made about the tech world (and tech stocks) rising to the occasion of the pandemic’s unique logistical and practical difficulties; innovation exists outside the world of big business as well. Indeed, some enterprising innovators are seeing a chance to make a positive difference in the lives, and minds, of Canadians.
While there is obviously a financial stake in the game for these companies, their presence is a sign that not all have given up in the face of Covid-19’s relentless onslaught. Indeed, some have identified, targeted and tackled some of the key problems facing Canadians as the disease progresses into 2021. Even if it eventually fades into the background, the weaknesses of our approach to mental healthcare it helped reveal will persist, and there will be room for these well intentioned innovators to grow and benefit us all.
Unable to talk to a mental health professional? Teletherapy is a Beacon in the night
The first and most obvious weakness is the availability of therapists and other mental health professionals. From councilors to psychoanalysts, no matter who you wish or need to seek for help, the pandemic has put up barriers between you. Even when you can meet, things are probably not the same as before. A barrier might separate you, a mask might mangle the conversation, and so forth.
But the digital revolution is helping to bring people the help they need, irrespective of the distance. Telehealth services are now prominent in Canada, pushed into the spotlight by the pandemic. The advent of teletherapy, connecting patients to therapists online or even via text based support, has been a huge boon to the clinical side of mental healthcare. And while it will never entirely make up for the damage the pandemic has inflicted on individuals or the system; teletherapy has progressed by leaps and bounds because of it.
Spotlight: Beacon, funded in part by the government of Ontario to help during the Covid-19 (and thus free for its residents!) this mental health care service provider works entirely online, using either text or digital connections to get patients support. They do not focus on drastic or emergency mental intervention, but rather use a quick questionnaire to help identify users’ needs, giving them guidelines for behavioral improvements even before the first contact with a professional. Quick and straightforward, an excellent example of the ingenuity, and attention to people’s needs, coming out of the pandemic.
Need to bolster mental fortitude? Add Adaptogens and Mushrooms to your daily Rritual
The pandemic has helped us realize how vulnerable we are to change, stress and uncertainty. It has shown us how out of shape we were, even before Covid-19, in mental health terms. Whether this comes in the form of heightened anxiety, an inability to relax or sleep, or even a weakened immune system as our bodies battle themselves under the duress of stress. These underlying weaknesses existed long before the pandemic, and will persist after if we do not start treating our minds like we do our bodies: taking care with what we feed them.
This is where the right set of supplements can help. Everyone knows how crucial certain vitamins can be, and their effects on the body have been well documented. But researchers are beginning to look more closely into the mental health equivalent: adaptogens. These plants help the body and mind cope with stress, and health product innovators are turning to them to assist in our fight against some of the more pernicious effects of the pandemic.
Spotlight: Rritual is a Canadian company doing just that, uniting both health experts and product innovators to make sure that their ‘elixirs’ are both effective and pleasant. Taste is indeed important when thinking about how to integrate something as strange as medicinal mushrooms to your everyday diet, and yet that is their genius. For this potent and all natural sources of adaptogens and other important molecules could become an easy way for us to strengthen our safeguards against stress. Indeed, one of their elixirs, meant to be added to your morning tea or coffee, is all about fighting stress, while the others also help with issues central to the covid pandemic. Supporting the immune system could not be more crucial, but even facilitating focus is proving to be key with so many Canadians working and studying from home this year.
Canadian companies like these showcase the strength of innovation
The world will never stop throwing unexpected problems at us, and while the solution might not always be found in a cup of mushroom adaptogen coffee, or be best discussed with a therapist over the phone, these are examples of solutions born out of necessity and opportunity. A unique combination of incentives for improvement to which, fortunately, some entrepreneurs arise. While the pandemic’s effects may continue to be felt across the globe for decades, it is important to remember that not all of them will be purely negative. If it helps us arrive at a better understanding of our mental health, and gives us the tools to better strengthen it, then that, at least, will be one silver lining to the dire situation Covid-19 has caused.
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