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Kendall Worth: Being poor and stressed during the coronavirus

KJIPUKTUK (Halifax) – Earlier I wrote about the lonely life of William (not his real name), a man who is on social assistance and lives with bipolar disorder. I also spoke with his sister in a follow-up story. 

When I heard from William this time around he had a mixture of both good news and not so good news. 

You readers may remember how William was about to start an Employment Readiness program. Well, that program has shut down because of COVID-19. 

The good news is that William and the new friends he made at the program have exchanged phone numbers so they can keep in touch with each other, and have their own emotional support network during this time of uncertainty.  

The bad news is that none of them drive or live within walking distance from William if he needs anything.

What is sad and heartbreaking is that there is no one if William needs things like his medications refilled, groceries, or a drive to and from the foodbank during this time of COVID-19, unless his sister who lives in Truro is off on the day he needs those things and she can drive in.

In recent conversations with William he updated me on what is happening with his mental health treatments and what his mental health behaviour has been like during this time of COVID-19.

William’s sister and I had a recent phone conversation about this whole situation as well. One thing that William himself and William’s sister are worried about is that for William following the orders from public health has not been good for his anxiety and his depression level has been rising over this. 

William’s sister as well as William are worried that William could potentially end up back in the Abby Lane. Absolutely nobody wants that to happen. She wished that there was help for William with groceries, and that somebody made sure that he takes his medication. She would like to see someone in Mental Health keep in touch with William as a friend during these public health warnings.

I explained that for mental health professionals that would mean overstepping their professional boundaries. I recommended that she should read my interview with Alex Stratford of the Nova Scotia College of Social Workers that deals with this issue.

Kendall Worth is an award-winning anti-poverty activist who lives with disabilities and tries to make ends meet on income assistance.

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