Are we mentally ready for Ontario to reopen?

TORONTO — Ontario moves to Step 3 of its economic reopening plan on Friday, a transition that will allow most of the province to once again “open for business,” as the premier is fond of saying.

Indoor dining, movie theatres and gyms will be allowed to operate for the first time in months while spectators will fill large venues such as sport stadiums and concerts yet again.

Although mask wearing and some capacity restrictions remain in place—for the most part, the move to Step 3 is the closest Ontario has been to pre-pandemic life since before the first wave of the deadly disease.

While some may be eager to schedule a large gathering with friends, meet up with family at a restaurant and even attend a concert in-person, others may be less inclined to do so.

The impact of COVID-19 on mental health has been a widely discussed topic, with experts suggesting that more people are reporting high levels of stress, anxiety and depression.

Canada’s top children’s hospitals declared a mental health emergency due to the pandemic in May, while researchers at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children released research showing the majority of children and teenagers in Ontario saw their mental health decline during the second wave.

The second episode of Life Unmasked explores the mental toll of the pandemic on both adults and children as they undergo numerous lockdowns and reopenings—and how to best mentally re-emerge after all that time in isolation.

Two experts in the field—Dr. Roger McIntyre, a Professor of Psychiatry and Pharmacology at the University of Toronto, and Dr. Sanjeev Sockalingam, Vice President of Education at the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health—join the team to offer their perspective and guidance.

Life Unmasked will air first on the iHeart app on Thursday mornings before becoming available on other streaming platforms. If you have questions for the podcast team, or idea for an episode, please email lifeunmasked@bellmedia.ca.

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