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COVID-19 & Your Mental Health: A Comprehensive Resource Guide

A comprehensive guide to support your mental health during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Caring for our mental health as individuals and as a community.

COVID-19 & Your Mental Health: A Comprehensive Resource Guide
**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.

Thank you from Jennifer and the Peak Resilience Team

In this Article:

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:

Reputable Sources

Essential Needs

Useful Contacts:

  • 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:

Distance Counselling

Self-Guided Coping Strategies

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 Lines

  • Crisis Centre BC- if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or a mental health crisis

Other Organizations with Resources

Supporting Others

Supporting Children

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:

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)

Other Coping Strategies and Helpful Links