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Primate of Canada warns of pandemic’s impact on mental health

20 November 2020

Anglican Church of Canada

Dr Linda Nicholls

Dr Linda Nicholls

THE coronavirus pandemic is taking its toll on Canadians’ mental health, and some tired and stressed clergy are “overwhelmed with weariness and exhaustion”, the Anglican Church’s Primate, Dr Linda Nicholls, has warned.

Dr Nicholls said that concerns over mental health were growing as the Church settled into the “semi-permanent pattern of living and working” during the pandemic.

She said that, while she was amazed by the creativity of online worship and the benefits, the new way of living and working was taking a heavy toll on many people.

“There remains a concern for mental health, as the isolation and loneliness are weighing heavily on families, grandparents, single people, and any for whom physical contact is essential: I think particularly of families with children with special needs,” she said.

Not being able to deal so easily with the pastoral concerns of their communities was an added stress for the clergy and bishops, combined with increasing workloads as a result of remote working, which were leading to exhaustion and burnout.

The number of coronavirus cases in Canada is continuing to rise. There have been more than 302,000 cases and more than 11,000 deaths from Covid-19 since the pandemic began.

The Anglican Church around the world was adapting to the realisation that the “either/or” approach — in-person or online worship — was not likely to return, leaving churches with the need to continue to connect online as well as worship together in person, restrictions permitting, she said.

Dr Nicholls was speaking at a Zoom gathering of the Council of the Canadian General Synod last week. She said that the national Church was working to provide resources and materials to help parishes put together online worship services over Christmas.

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