The challenges presented by the pandemic continue to wear upon Cochranites, according to the second public engagement survey conducted by the town's Social Recovery Task Force.

Last night, a summary of the survey was provided to town council. Success stories and future initiatives were also shared.

According to those responding to the survey:

  • Eighty per cent said they are concerned about their mental health and personal well-being, an increase of nine per cent
  • Eighty-three per cent are concerned about stress levels in their life 
  • Thirty-six per cent are concerned about increased disagreements and conflicts in their home, up one per cent
  • Nine per cent were concerned about violence in their home, up three per cent
  • Fifty-two per cent feel helpless about the situation, up nine per cent
  • 39 per cent have lost interest and pleasure in their daily activities
  • 42 per cent have moments of great anxiety, up eight per cent
  • 17 per cent have increased their use of alcohol and/or drugs
  • 6 per cent decrease in those who believe they have a very strong sense of belonging in the community  

Ninety-two per cent of respondents say news reports have hurt their state of mind. Seventy-eight per cent said guidelines and instructions from authority also had a negative impact.

Concern about personal safety (61 per cent) and financial security (53 per cent) also had an impact upon their state of mind.

"There was also a dramatic change in how people feel about Cochrane social well-being," explains Kim Krawac, task force chair, and FCSS manager. "Feelings of anger and sadness increased while feelings and happiness and excitement decreased between the two surveys."

Finances and job security are also of concern.

  • 66 per cent are concerned about their financial stability
  • 26 per cent said someone in the household had lost a job.
  • 11 per cent increase in concern over possible job loss
  • 38 per cent are finding it more difficult to meet financial needs, up six per cent
  • 40 per cent are concerned their financial situation will worsen, dropping one per cent from the last survey.
  • 4 per cent fear they will run out of food
  • 7 per cent believe they will need to move within the next six months
  • 46 per cent of respondents applied for financial relief

In the workplace, 16 per cent of respondents rate their mental health as being poor. Five per cent say stress levels at work are very high, while 21 per cent consider it high, 63 per cent medium, and 11 per cent low.

While identifying these concerns, 82 per cent of the respondents said they have the mental health support they need. That's an increase of two per cent since the last survey.

Task force member Sandra Gateman explained a communications campaign has been utilized to provide information on resources and services available in the community. It also provided ideas on what activities could be enjoyed within the pandemic.

"The task force heard a lot of the information people received in the early stages of the pandemic was focused on what people couldn't do, which felt very negative to most people," said Gateman. "So the task force early on decided to turn this around and create lists of 10 things that you can do, giving people ideas of what to do with the present level of restrictions."

They also promoted holding COVID-safe block parties and developed a planning guide.

It will continue to increase awareness of resources available, and promote safe ways to connect socially. A community-wide initiative is also in the works to recognize Mental Health Awareness Week, May 3 to 10.

"The planning is in early stages right now, but there is a discussion about enlisting community associations and groups to plan COVID-safe events that residents can easily take part in," she said.

The public engagement survey developed here has been used by at least seven other communities.

"I'd like to think that that's a pretty big Kudo for our efforts in writing a comprehensive survey if other communities want to use it," said Gateman.

The second survey was conducted between Nov. 12 and Dec. 17. Ninety per cent of the 340 responding reside in Cochrane, eight per cent in Western Rocky View, one per cent in MD of Bighorn, and one was classified as other. A total of 552 responded to the first survey in June.

A third one is planned for either May or June.

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