**Active Blog Entry: come back every now and then to see this post updated with the latest information and resources. Last update: November 3rd, 2020.**
We have started compiling this rough draft of a comprehensive guide to support your mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic. But we need your help! Please share this resource list with anyone who might benefit. We will continue to update this list, so please do contact us if you have additional resources we can add! We haven’t found a comprehensive guide for mental health during COVID-19 yet so we decided to start this one and we know it’s incomplete without ideas from our community.
Mental health is just as important as physical health when it comes to responding to COVID-19. Caring for our mental health as individuals and as a community translates into a more effective pandemic response and fewer costs to humans and society as a whole.
In this Article:
- Common Reactions
- How to look after yourself and others’ mental health
- Updates and Basic-Needs Resources
- Mental Health ResourcesSupporting Others
- High-Risk Population (Elders, those with Chronic Health Conditions)
- Other Coping Strategies and Helpful Articles
Common reactions during this time
Humans generally love certainty and control (my husband might say that I love it more than the general population). When things feel out of our control it can increase feelings of fear. This reaction is normal because it is our body’s natural, biological response. What matters is how we respond to our reactions.
Here are some common reactions you or people you know may be experiencing:
- Worry, anxiety, fear of unknown in general
- Financial concerns and fears
- Fears around your health or the health of your loved ones
Feeling of being “on edge” - irritable, cranky, short with people
- Feelings of being low - hopeless, sad, apathetic (just don’t care)
- Feelings of being detached or things feel surreal
- Wrestling with conflicting values - “do I visit my grandma?”
- Existential stress - thoughts and feelings related to “what is the point of my life” etc
- Some of these feelings may carry over to our relationships with our family and partners. Read here for our blog post on Living with a Partner during the Pandemic.
Key ways to maintain your own mental health and promote the mental health of those around you:
- Recognize that fear and uncertainty are normal and these feelings make sense - sometimes people can be anxious about being anxious- you can imagine this doesn’t decrease anxiety
- Continue to remember that ‘panic sells and calm saves’- consuming media that has been designed to be addictive and attention grabbing is not always helpful in times like these. Continue to try practicing a calm, helpful attitude and limiting your information gathering to reputable sources during a difficult time
- Focus on taking small, concrete steps every day to prepare and educate yourself. For example- looking through your cabinets to take inventory of your home supplies and food will allow you to go out to get anything you’re missing the next day. Calling an elderly relative will help you focus on helping others who might be struggling more than yourself
- Recognize what is in your control (hand-washing) and what is out of your control (quarantine measures) and try to focus on what you have control overSet boundaries with friends or family by telling them what you can currently take on
Try practicing mindfulness and being in the present moment. Some helpful apps are calm.com and Insight Timer
Access virtual mental health care services such as Peak Resilience video counselling or visiting a general practitioner through Babylon Health App - mental health is just as important during this time and cannot be ignored. (more resources below)
Shop local and support small businesses
Look out for each other and keep connected! Talk with your neighbours, friends, and family to share your needs and what you have capacity for when supporting others
Updates and Basic-Needs Resources
Here are some helpful links to keep you in the loop and aware of any updates related to our basic needs and health:
- City of Vancouver
- Health Link BC
- BC Centre for Disease and Control
- Government of Canada
- World Health Organization (WHO) - Global Information
- Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan - financial support for Canadians and businesses
- The Vancouver Rent Bank (VRB) - City of Vancouver
- Financial Assistance Guide and Summary - information gathered by Women Who Freelance, but applicable to all Canadians
- The Trauma of Money: Managing Financial Scarcity - free Zoom video webinar on March 25th hosted by Mindful Money expert, Chantel Chapman and Psychotherapist Hiroko Demichelis
- 8-1-1 - Health-Link BC
- CALL 1-888-COVID19 / 1-888-268-4319 or TEXT 604-630-0300 - For non-medical info regarding COVID-19 (7:30am-8pm, with over 110 languages available)
- 1-833-784-4397 - Toll Free number across Canada for COVID-19 updates
Mental Health Resources
As Canadians and humans in general, now is a great time to step up and support one another and use our collective resilience to move past this pandemic. Acknowledge the strengths you have and harness them to support yourself, your loved ones and your community. Our strength is in providing mental health support- so if you need extra support, here are some options:
- Studies suggest that distance counselling over the phone or on video is effective and comparable to face-to-face counselling (Castro et al, 2020; Murphy et al, 2009)
- If you are a BC resident and you’re interested in accessing services at Peak Resilience, feel free to check out our services page for more information
- Navigate our lower cost or free mental health options page for other resources. This page is being updated as more information comes in.
- The Government of British Columbia has launched Here2Talk, a new mental-health counselling and referral service for post-secondary students
Self-Guided Coping Strategies
- FACTBC’s (Federation of Associations of Counselling Therapists in BC) press release on protecting mental health during times of uncertainty
- The Mental Health Commission of Canada released two self-care and resilience guides that people can download and use for the Working Mind and the Inquiring Mind
- Dr. Sachiko Nagasawa created a workbook for tolerating uncertainty, this has been shared amongst some other resources from U of T
- F.A.C.E C.O.V.I.D coping strategy by Dr. Russ Harris - (PDF)
- Anxiety Canada introduces some ways you can cope with Returning to a New Normal: 12 Tips for Handling Uncertainty as the pandemic restrictions lift
Support Groups and Webinars
- Adler Centre is offering free online groups of 10 people for 10 weeks and for 2 hour sessions each week. The group begins mid-November. More information here.
- YMind offers free mental wellness groups for teens, youth and adults.
- (Update: Support Groups have ended) Peak Resilience is currently hosting a free Support Group for BC residents. Read our blog post to learn more about how to join
- (Update: Support Group has ended) Peak Resilience is also hosting a Support Group for frontline healthcare workers.
- Anxiety Canada has a guide on coping with anxiety for youth, adults, and children. They are have also hosted and recorded “Town Hall” meetings (link with recordings) where you may learn from experts on how you can cope during the crisis
- Anxiety Canada is hosting MindShift CBT Groups for small groups of young adults and adults with mild to moderate anxiety
- Thrive Counselling Clinic in downtown, Vancouver is hosting a free support group for BC residents
- Postpartum Online Support Meetings - Postpartum Support International offering weekly support meetings online
- “Body Stories” Support Group - meeting on Zoom exploring relationship with our bodies through feminist narrative enquiry (Wednesdays starting March 18th, 5:30pm-7:30pm)
- BCFED had a Community Conversation about Sexual and Domestic Violence during COVID-19 this past April. The conversation is recorded and published on their page
- HollyhockTalks: Sheltering in Community did a 6-week webinar series including a variety of topics each week on how to “centre, calm, and connect”. Recordings are now available on the weblink.
- Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre is offering social groups online through Zoom. To find out more, visit their web page to see their calendar of events and groups being hosted. Some of their social groups include Kitchen Music Party, Art Therapy for Wellness, Guided Meditation, Chronic Pain Support Group and more.
- Crisis Centre BC- if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis
Other Organizations with Resources
- Vancouver Coastal Health Mental Health and Substance Use information
- Canadian Mental Health Association
- The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) - guide for coping
- Do you feel that you’d like to contribute to a better understanding of how the pandemic is affecting our stress and health? Dr. Joelle Lemoult of UBC’s Depression, Anxiety, and Stress (DAS) lab is conducting a study now and would like your participation to better understand how the pandemic is affecting the population. Sign up on their lab website.
- Nursefly has compiled together some free mental and physical health resources for frontline workers
Children might experience more:
- Stress-related reactions due to tension modelled by adults and media
- They may be more anxious and display more clingy behaviour
- They may experience more health anxiety
- They may be withdrawn, irritable and some may experience younger behaviours like bedwetting even if they haven’t wet the bed in a while
How you can support them:
- Role modelling is biggest priority- staying calm as a parent/caregiver
- Be conscious about how much news you have on at home
- Be aware of how you’re talking to each other as parents/care givers - children often overhear or can infer your “tone” of anxiety/fear
- Relay age appropriate information from reputable sources like the World Health Organization or HealthLinkBC.
- Visit Pandemic Parenting for recorded webinars and resources
- PDF on how to support kids
- How to talk to kids about COVID-19
- Info on anxiety in kids
- A supportive opinion article for parents during the pandemic by Kristen Thompson - (article, Today’s Parent)
Supporting the High-Risk Population
Elderly People or those with Other Chronic Health Conditions May Experience:
- More anxiety, fear and isolation in general
- Health Anxieties that are normally present may increase
- Feeling down, depressed, hopeless
- Existential angst such as thinking “what is the point of life” etc
Supporting Elderly People or People with Other Chronic Health Conditions:
- Medicare Advantage provides a list of resources detailing how seniors and their caregivers can best look out for their mental health during COVID-19
- Create a schedule of connecting through video or phone (including reminders of when you’re going to call)- put these meetings into your schedule and if you can involve more family members- even better
- Discuss mental health as openly as possible. Ask them how they’ve been feeling emotionally or how they’re feeling about the pandemic
- Validate and normalize their fears. Practice active listening.
- Some may want to process the information through remembering other times they’ve faced struggle- this is a great time to listen and learn. Story telling is a huge part of connection and healing.
- Capitalize on their strengths- do they have a great sense of humour? Maybe you can try to find anything humourous about what’s happening (such as the mass buying of toilet paper)
- In general, seniors and people who manage chronic health concerns have been through a lot! Generate conversation about how they’ve remained resilient throughout their lives and how they’ve gotten to this point. Ask them about their favourite times, favourite activities, people, etc.
- Maybe now’s a good time to take the Senior’s Mental Health First Aid course here
- Check out the Mental Health Commission of Canada’s resource site for senior mental health
Other Coping Strategies and Helpful Links
- Taking Care of Your Mental Health in the Face of Uncertainty - (article) American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
- What to do if you’re anxious or worried about coronavirus (COVID-19) - (article) Anxiety Canada
- Emotional Autoimmunity by Kerry Jeffrey - (blog) how to manage stress and fear for those with or without chronic illness
- We’re all in this together: facing the coronavirus crisis by Edie Weinstein - (article)
- Managing working remotely from home - (article) CBC
- Continuing Everyday - (website) “a website dedicated to keep our community connected in times of uncertainty…” Studio Faculty
- Nine Simple Interventions for Depression during COVID-19 and All Challenging Times by Janina Fischer - (article) Psychotherapy Network
- Trauma-Informed Leadership During the Pandemic: Rising to the Challenge and staying connected with Students - North American Center for Threat Assessment and Trauma Response (NACTATR) resource for teachers and school-personnel to support students
- Narrative Responses to the Pandemic - Dulwich Centre
- Building Resilience with Chief Joseph - (Youtube) Reconciliation Canada
- Learning Together (while staying apart) - (Youtube) Haymarket Books
- Strategies for Coping with Isolation and Loneliness During the Coronavirus Pandemic - (article) Counselling@Northwestern
- Murphy, L., Parnass, P., Mitchell, D.L, Hallett, R., Cayley, Pl, & Seagram, S. (2009). Client satisfaction and outcome comparisons of online and face-to-face counselling methods. British Journal of Social Work. 1-14.
- Castro, A., Gili, M., Ricci-Cabello, I., Roca, M., Gilbody, S., Perez-Ara, M.A., Seguí, A., & McMillan, D. (2020). Effectiveness and adherence of telephone-administered psychotherapy for depression. Journal of Affective Disorders: 260, 514-526.
- Guarding Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic - (article) Rehab4Addiction Outreach, UK