How to prioritize your mental health during the pandemic

Apr 23 2020, 7:24 pm

Written for Daily Hive by Jane Thornthwaite — the MLA for North Vancouver – Seymour and the Official Opposition Critic for Mental Health and Addictions.

For most of us, the past month has been the most challenging and unsettling few weeks in living memory. Our world has changed in so many ways since the beginning of the COVID-19 global pandemic.

However, It is important to acknowledge that fear and anxiety at this time is completely understandable. Physical distancing can have a significant impact on our mental health. Not only are we facing isolation from friends and family, but we are also anxious about our kids’ schooling, impacts on elderly relatives, losing our jobs, and for those who own businesses, the possibility of closures and losing our livelihood.

Our mental well-being is being strained more than ever through this crisis. Which is why it is critical to remember that no one is alone in feeling stress, anxiety or even depression right now. It’s okay to not be okay.

There are simple steps we can take to help relieve the anxiety and stress many of us are experiencing. Be mindful and deliberate about where you get your information. There is lots of misinformation out there. Turn off the news and social media. Go for a walk outdoors (while maintaining distance), read a new book, practice mindfulness, and reach out to others who might need help with shopping.

For some, financial stress, relationship disputes, and uncertainty for the future can seem insurmountable. Sadly, this can sometimes lead to, or worsen, addiction. While services are available to help those in need, there are still gaps for those seeking treatment and recovery options. We still need a seamless continuum of care just like we did before COVID-19.

Many resources and meetings that were vital to people dealing with substance use problems are no longer available or look different now. However, many providers have been innovative and have organized online support.

None of us are alone in this. By doing small things to stay positive and mentally healthy we can get through this period of uncertainty together.

Be kind, be calm, and stay safe, everyone.

Important Resources: 

  • Canadian Mental Health Association – Coronavirus: managing stress & anxiety
  • BounceBackBC – A free online program designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress or worry
  • Anxiety Canada – What to do if you’re anxious or worried about coronavirus (COVID-19)
  • Foundry BC – Tips for when the news stresses you out
  • HealthlinkBC – If you still have questions, call 811 to speak with a registered nurse, or access online resources for health-related questions. Or dial 311-mental for mental health help
  • CrisiscentreBC – If you or someone you know is feeling hopeless or at risk of harm, call or chat online with a crisis responder any time
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