Dr. Joti Samra interviewed by News 1130 – Many Canadians who care for parents, other family members are extremely stressed: report

(Sonia Aslam January 22, 2015)


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – As baby boomers age, more of us are taking care of sick and elderly family members — and we’re getting a better idea of just how stressful that can be.


The Mental Health Commission has released a new comprehensive report that gives us a snapshot of how dire the situation is in this country. It appears many people in the “sandwich generation” are struggling to cope.


The report finds nearly one in five people over the age of 15 are feeling extreme levels of stress because they’re acting as a caregiver to a parent or another aging family member.


Psychologist Dr. Joti Samra isn’t surprised; she says it’s draining — not just mentally but financially, too.


“Gone are the days where most people are only taking care of their children. They’re now in the sandwich generation where they have multiple competing demands. And when we’re trying to juggle things like our day-to-day work life, our household tasks, making sure we’re keeping up with things like sleep and exercise… something pays a price, ultimately.”


She explains dealing with long-term stress that we have no control over is taxing on the body.


“If you’re always feeling like you’re running behind and aren’t keeping up and really not getting ‘me’ time to be able to recharge, that takes a significant toll over time. As human beings, we are very well equipped to deal with short stressors. But when we’re faced with demands that exceed that and are chronic… that starts to pose a significant problem when it comes to our mental health.”


“This is a stressful world that we live in and stress levels are on the rise,” she adds. “When we take a look at the stress and demand on us now compared to even 10 years ago, they’re significantly higher. There are higher financial demands, there are higher time demands, people are working longer hours, there’s this 24-7 nature of work that’s very different than how life used to be.”


Two other things concerning the Commission are the rates of self harm and suicide. The report finds suicide rates in Canada, while stable over time, are higher than in some other G8 countries.


This report is just a glimpse at the state of mental health in Canada. A more detailed report including up to 60 indicators is due out in April.


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