Mental Health Matters: COVID-19
It’s ok to feel sad, stressed, confused, or scared during a crisis. COVID-19 has placed significant strain on individuals and families across Canada, and we are all managing this stress and anxiety differently. Canadians are being challenged in a number of ways because of isolation, financial and employment uncertainty and disruptions to daily life.
NEED IMMEDIATE SUPPORT?
If you are in crisis or require support right away, please choose from one of the crisis options below:
Youth: Text WELLNESS to 686868
Adults: Text WELLNESS to 741741
Call 911 if you are in immediate danger or need urgent medical support.
IF YOU ARE FEELING ANXIOUS:
|Crisis lines and mental health professionals are seeing a jump in calls as Canadians come to try to deal with the unprecedented disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the increasingly drastic measures aimed at containing coronavirus.
People are very anxious about what’s happening. People are feeling worried and scared. But social isolation doesn’t mean emotional isolation. If you need to talk to someone, here are some supports available:
CRISIS TEXT LINE CANADA
Text HOME to 686868 in Canada to text with a trained Crisis Responder.
Every texter is connected with a Crisis Responder, a real-life human being trained to bring texters from a hot moment to a cool calm through active listening and collaborative problem-solving.
Here are some tips from Anxiety Canada:
Even people who don’t usually struggle with anxiety are experiencing more worry and anxiety now. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re experiencing more anxiety than usual.
Limit the news & unplug from social media
Understandably coronavirus is the lead story for most news outlets. People on social media are likewise sharing information and stories, some of which are accurate but others may have little to do with reality. By limiting or eliminating contact with media you can help yourself manage your own anxiety and worry. If you cannot eliminate contact with media, control it: Make sure that your information only comes from reputable sources
Stop talking about coronavirus
Water cooler chat with coworkers and sharing the latest details with family and friends will be common. But: it keeps us thinking about it, which will influence our sense of threat/risk.
To counteract this, don’t initiate the conversation and change the subject if it does come up. If you’re comfortable doing so, ask friends and family to not discuss the coronavirus news updates with you. Not only will this help you feel less anxious, it’ll help others too.
Good hand hygiene – although COVID-19 is a novel virus, it’s still a virus and handwashing remains one of the best ways to protect yourself. Follow the guidelines of your local public health agency, Health Canada, or the World Health Organization.
Washing your hands for 20 seconds with warm water is sufficient protection. Don’t set a timer as it will establish a false sense of security and certainty. Remember we live in an uncertain world and we need to be able to tolerate some uncertainty.
Stop touching your face – viruses enter our bodies through our eyes, nose and mouth. The coronavirus can also be inhaled if you are standing close to someone who coughs or sneezes without covering their nose or mouth. Many people touch their faces out of habit. Habits can be changed if you commit to it.
– during the period when coronavirus is active it may be reasonable to disengage the usual greeting of handshaking, hugging and kissing and keeping a distance of 1 metre (3 feet) from someone who’s exhibiting symptoms. And importantly, to prevent the spread of infection, if you are feeling unwell and have a fever or a cough, please stay home and limit interactions with people in your home.
You are not alone and help is available.
Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support
Where to Start
Wellness Together Canada provides free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. Click the ‘Get Started’ button below to create an account and answer a series of questions to guide you in choosing from a variety of tools and resources to get you back on track.
You can access educational resources and immediate support crisis lines below without creating an account.
See here: https://ca.portal.gs/?lang=en-ca
Canadians are resourceful and our population is diverse. To meet people’s individual needs and preferences, we are offering a wide range of resources and support for Canadians. The resources below can be accessed without creating an account.
Youth: Strategies to get through this together
We’re here for you during COVID-19 (novel coronavirus)
Adults: Strategies for coping with mental health and addictions
Mental health in the workplace
In the workplace, this is not business as usual, so don’t get down on yourself if you’re having trouble working as effectively as you once did. There is no one right way to manage your mental health through a pandemic. Remember, you are not alone.
Start your morning off right
Just five minutes of mindful activity every morning, away from any screens, can make a big difference throughout your day.
Mindful activity could include:
- a five-minute (or more) meditation: visualize your day, how do you want it to go?
- looking out the window over coffee or breakfast
- listening to a song or podcast
- exercise or deep breathing
Personalize your workspace
If you are not in the habit of working from home, this will be a significant transition for you. It means changing the way you communicate with your team and perhaps how you work overall. This could be more difficult if you are also caring for others around you.
- If you do not have a home office, dedicate a workspace, away from other surroundings, that you can get up and leave at the end of your workday
- Add any elements that relieve stress: e.g. a diffuser, plants, pictures, etc.
- Ask for the accommodations you need
There is no magic recipe, so do what works for you. The more you take care of your brain and your body, the less likely you are to burnout.
Power down at the end of the day
To stay motivated, find evidence of the good work you’ve done. Make a list of all the tasks you accomplished for the day, no matter the size, or ask for feedback from someone you trust.
Be kind to yourself. Practice self-compassion using positive self-talk and by respecting your limits.
If your role allows it, set a time to finish work and put away your devices. If not, give yourself some extra freedom at some point throughout the day: e.g., an extra 20 minutes in the morning. Find some activities that can calm your stimulated mind. For example:
- listen to white noise or instrumental music
- take up something creative or fun: an instrument, crocheting, puzzling, baking, etc.
- go for a walk or exercise
Looking for a guided meditation practice? Check out the Breath Break at Your Desk videos produced by the Privy Council Office.
The Centre of Expertise on Mental Health in the Workplace offers fact sheets on COVID-19 and mental health, which provide you with an overview of available services and supports. They include tips on how to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak:
Coping with stress
Stress is a fact of daily life and is the result of both the good and bad things that happen to us. Too much negative stress can cause serious health concerns, but there are many ways of dealing with the stress you may be feeling right now to reduce your risk.
Learn more about stress, including symptoms and effects, and ways to cope.
What’s your stress index? Take the Canadian Mental Health Association’s questionnaire regularly to monitor shifts in your stress levels and take action as needed.
If your stress levels concern you, build your stress management action plan with Stress Strategies, an online tool from the Psychology Foundation of Canada that offers practical, problem-solving methods to help identify and address the source of your stress.
Self-care and resilience
When it comes to self-care, physical and mental health go hand-in-hand. It starts with the basics:
Beyond these basics, look to activities you enjoy and build them into your daily routine. Mental Health First Aid Canada’s COVID-19 Self-Care & Resilience Guide offers a list of activity suggestions and a downloadable template to create your own self-care and resilience plan.
You can also identify your stressors and choose healthier coping strategies to build your personal and work resilience, using the Plan for Resilience – Workplace Edition. This free resource from Canada Life’s Workplace Strategies for Mental Health is specifically designed to help leaders, employees and the self-employed to develop a plan to get through and bounce back from challenging times.
You may be worried about the impact of the current COVID-19 outbreak on your personal finances. Whatever the source, financial emergencies can be stressful and cause considerable hardships for you and your family.
Consult COVID-19: Managing financial health in challenging times as a starting point to tackle your financial worries relating to the coronavirus outbreak.
The Financial Consumer Agency of Canada has many educational resources and tools on budgeting, credit, savings, debt management and more.
Do you know someone facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak? The Government of Canada has taken action to help Canadians with their finances during this exceptional period. Learn more about these actions in the Economic Response Plan.
Canada.ca/health offers mental health information, including resources on improving your mental health at work and in your daily life, such as:
How would you rate your current state of mental health? Take a self-assessment.
Resources relating to protecting your mental health during COVID-19 are continually being developed, and we will update them regularly as new resources become available: