Paying attention to our mental health – and that of our loved ones – is important at the best of times. Add the stresses of COVID-19, and mental wellness can become even more difficult to maintain.
This pandemic has generated numerous issues that weigh heavily on individuals and families: isolation; financial concerns; disruption of routines; and worry – about contracting the virus and its impact on the future.
For those already struggling with existing mental health conditions, the impact can be even greater. It’s important to remember that we get through scary and uncertain times the same way we always do – together.
Those struggling with mental health challenges may experience a variety of symptoms: sadness, depression, difficulty concentrating, anxiety, excessive worrying or guilt, mood changes, loss of interest in activities or friends, extreme fatigue or insomnia, excessive anger, hostility or violence, substance use or excessive alcohol consumption, and suicidal thinking.
“Mental health issues are NOT a sign of weakness, and they do not define who you are,” says Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam. “Many of us have endured mental health struggles – past or present – and we understand the frustration, fear and even shame that can accompany that. Please know that – despite those feelings – you are not alone in this struggle, and there are resources and supports to help you on that path to wellness.”
It’s important that everyone work together to fight the stigma that can hinder people from seeking help.
“We get through these struggles by supporting each other and being kind,” Mayor Gandam notes. “Everyone has their own battles to fight, and needing some help along the way is completely natural. Please know that help is available and ready when you are.”
- Persons with pre-existing mental health conditions should closely monitor themselves for any new symptoms.
For families, monitor what children are reading and watching, and watch for misinformation – expect questions and share two-way conversations; help with continued learning; and try to maintain routines. Children take emotional cues from adults – be present, calm, confident and reassuring.
Isolated seniors are at higher risk for mental health decline, including loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety and suicide – connect safely with older friends, relatives and neighbours by phone or video call, for example.
Circumstances also include an increase in domestic violence, including partner abuse, sexual abuse, child abuse, elder abuse, pet abuse or financial abuse – call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger and know that emergency shelters remain open.
Take breaks from watching, reading and listening to the news, including social media.
Adopt healthy lifestyle behaviours, including a healthy diet, exercise and physical activity; good sleep habits; moderate alcohol intake; and self-care, such as yoga, meditation or reading.
Help is available, including virtual and phone counselling sessions, and 24/7 support resources:
- Kids Help Phone:
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health: camh.ca; Addiction Help Line:
1-866-332-2322;Mental Health Help Line: 1-877-303-2642
- Canadian Mental Health Association: cmha.ca
- Crisis Services Canada-Suicide: crisisservicescanada.ca
- Shelter Safe: sheltersafe.ca
- Income Supports: