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How is the pandemic affecting our mental health?

Researchers at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ont. are studying the impacts of social isolation on the public

Whether you call it “stir-crazy,” “cabin fever,” or “just another Wednesday,” social isolation and distancing is having an impact on a large swath of society.

While it is for the greater good of our physical health, the effect on our mental health is what researchers are interested in at Wilfrid Laurier University.

Simon Coulombe is the assistant professor of psychology leading the study, which aims to find the effects of social isolation on Canadian-based workers.

“We’re basically recruiting 700 participants from across Canada, who were working before the crisis, and who are still working, or not, depending on if they’ve been laid off or not.”

Coulombe says graduate student Tyler Pacheco had the idea two weeks ago.

“We realized that people were going to change all their routines and start to work from home, while having a bunch of other responsibilities to manage,” said Coulombe. “All of us have never experienced something similar, I think.”

The ‘data’ they plan to analyze is the use of social media, and whether participants’ online behaviours change, seeking more engagement from people online, and whether that meets their social needs.

“We started only last Friday and we already have almost 500 participants, and people seem very engaged,” said Coulombe. “It looks like people are looking for opportunities to get their voices heard, or at least to make something out of their experiences right now.”

Coulombe is hoping to have the data analyzed quickly so as to potentially help policies for the current crisis or for those in the future.

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