The Government of the Northwest Territories (GNWT) has released its latest Social Indicators COVID-19 Pandemic report. The report examines the social impacts of health measures taken to protect Northwest Territories (NWT) residents against COVID-19.
In May 2020, the Department of Health and Social Services put together a working group to examine whether public health measures during the pandemic were having unintended negative consequences on the well-being of residents. For example, it was anticipated that social isolation would create challenges in reporting concerns of suspected child/youth maltreatment.
Other key social indicators being monitored include mental health and addictions, alcohol-related harm, and family violence.
Highlights of the report’s findings include:
· August 2022 saw the lowest number of children/youth reported to be at risk of maltreatment, when compared to 2019-2021.
· The number of visits to community health centers related to anxiety and depression from August to October 2022 were similar to those in the same months in 2021.
· During the first half of 2022, the number of medical visits for alcohol related harms were lower than or similar to the same time period in 2021. However, this trend reversed from July to October 2022, with alcohol related medical visits being higher than the same months in 2021.
· During the pandemic there was a decrease in the number of admissions to family violence shelters. It was anticipated that admissions would return to pre-pandemic levels with the end of the Public Health Emergency in April, but this has not been the case.
This social indicator data provides valuable insight to help determine what actions need to be taken by the Health and Social Services system. However, interpretation of the data needs to be carefully considered due to limitations, such as the NWT’s relatively small population, the short duration of the studies, and information misclassification.