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Supporting Mental Well-Being Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

April 13, 2020

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Supporting Mental Well-Being Amidst the COVID-19 Outbreak

Originally Published by Crisis Services Canada

The COVID-19 outbreak may be causing stress and anxiety for many people. During times of such uncertainty and unpredictability, with a myriad of factors such as health concerns, economic stress and altered routines, increased stress is a normal, widespread reaction. There are some techniques and things to be mindful of, when taking care of mental well-being.

For yourself:

  • Reach out to family, friends or other people you trust if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Balance staying informed with over-exposure to developing news. Repeatedly hearing or reading about the pandemic can increase stress and anxiety. Ensure you are receiving news from reliable, neutral sources, such as government bodies like the Public Health Agency of Canada, the World Health Organization, or the Centres for Disease Control.
  • Ensure your physical needs are being met; stay hydrated, eat healthy, nutritious meals and exercise regularly.
  • Try meditation or mindfulness exercises, like breathing techniques. If you are just getting started, there are helpful apps such as ‘Calm’ that provide a great base for beginners.
  • Keep doing the things that you enjoy, while being responsible about your health and safety. If your routine has been disrupted, try creative alternatives that still enable you to remain connected. For example, if you participate in a weekly sports team that is not currently meeting in person, try coordinating a group chat, or a virtual meeting instead.
  • Be aware of changes in your routine, and try to add as much structure as possible under the circumstances. Structure and routine can help mitigate stress and maintain a sense of progress and normalcy.

If you or someone you know has a pre-existing mental health condition:

  • Continue your treatment plan and find virtual ways to stay connected with your support resources such as helplines, counsellors or psychiatrists. Many offices are offering telephone or digital support instead of in-person consultations.
  • Be aware of worsening symptoms or exacerbating factors such as increased alcohol or substance use
  • Know that the Canada Suicide Prevention Service is here to support anyone with concerns about suicide, whether you are contemplating it yourself, or are worried about someone else who is showing signs of risk. If you are concerned about someone else, we will walk you through appropriate action and help ensure the safety and well-being of the third party.

The time during and after an infectious disease outbreak will be confusing, disruptive and complicated. Feelings of fear, helplessness, and even guilt are normal. Your mental well-being is just as essential as your physical well-being. Psychological/emotional and societal effects of the outbreak will persist even after the virus is safely contained and the state of emergency is resolved. Be aware of the effects on your outlook and mental health, and know that these effects may change or evolve over time.

CSPS is working hard to ensure that we maintain a reliable, accessible support service throughout the outbreak and in the future. It is of vital importance that the people of Canada have access to support resources, and that we all collaborate to nurture each other and protect the physical and mental health of our communities.

For more resources on COVID-19, including general information, FAQ and literature on how to manage anxiety and stress, click here:

This article was compiled based on information from the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization.


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