COVID-19 has Created a Mental Health Crisis. BC Experts say: ‘Move More Often to Improve Physical AND Mental Health’

COVID-19 has Created a Mental Health Crisis BC Experts say: ‘Move More Often to Improve Physical AND Mental Health’


Vancouver (August 30, 2021) Members of the BC Physical Activity for Health Collaborative (the Collaborative) are sounding the alarm about the mental health crisis across the province. While the pandemic has amplified demand for accessible mental health resources, the Collaborative stresses physical activity as a complementary tool to combat declining mental health.

“We’re looking at the research and are very concerned about the increase in stress, anxiety and depression. Unfortunately, this is disproportionately experienced by young adults, families with children, Indigenous people and households with lower incomes,” says Samantha Hartley-Folz, co-chair of the Collaborative and Acting General Manager of Community Operations at the YMCA of Greater Vancouver.

Dr. Guy Faulkner, Professor in the UBC School of Kinesiology says “Given the toll that COVID-19 has taken on our mental health, people need to know that physical activity can help with stress management and can improve mood, even in chronically stressed adults.” 

Polling conducted by BC Alliance for Healthy Living in June shows that COVID-19 has left many British Columbians feeling stressed, unconnected to their communities and with worsened mental health. The Collaborative recommends physical activities that are approachable and fun to help combat stress and loneliness.

Rebecca Tunnacliffe, CEO of BC Recreation and Parks suggests, “Do any activity that you enjoy and make time for it. It can be as simple as walking or biking, yard work, or active play with kids. There’s also a wide range of online programs, including adapted exercises for people with mobility challenges. By getting out and active, people can feel physically better and part of a bigger community.”

Dr. Heather McKay, co-lead of UBC’s Active Aging Research Team and President of the Active Aging Society, stresses the need to support older adults to be active. “Even before the pandemic, many older adults were not physically and socially active enough to achieve physical, social and mental health benefits. Take small steps towards your physical and social activity goals; every move counts!”

The BC Physical Activity for Health Collaborative has launched a campaign to get British Columbians moving with a focus on families and older adults. The Collaborative is a network of leaders in physical activity from academia, sport, recreation and health committed to increasing physical activity for all British Columbians.


For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Selenna Ho
Communications Manager

BC Alliance for Healthy Living
C: 778-836-1001