Due to COVID-19, many people have reported depleted mental health. Mental health relies on a person’s genes, biology, environment, and lifestyle. The environment and lifestyle for many of our global citizens have been disrupted and we have become victims of its result.
Our body and mind are trying to adapt to the new situation we are subjected to, along with stress or worry we might carry for the safety of our loved ones. These situations include but are not limited to financial problems, loss of jobs, social isolation, family issues, change in environment, and the overwhelming feeling of grief or loss of a loved one. A survey, released by the Conference Board of Canada and the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), reveals that COVID-19 continues to cause anxiety when it comes to employment status, income level, and the availability of coping strategies.
These issues can hinder one’s schedule and can constitute the depletion of one’s mental health and wellbeing. According to the MHCC, 84% of people reported that their mental health concerns had worsened since the onset of the pandemic. This tragedy extends to the Native American population. “Social determinants”, intergenerational effects of residential schools, the forced relocation of communities, and mental health service gaps have amounted to sixty percent of Indigenous people’s mental health worsening.
These times can be difficult. Regardless of the external circumstances, we are subjected to, we must continue to take care of our mental health, replenish our mind and body, and maintain a positive and healthy outlook on the situation.
The first step towards recovery is the simple acknowledgment that the virus affects us all, and is not limited to anyone. Each person must sacrifice or adapt to what the circumstances demand, straining our mind and body with a change in pace or familiarities. Acknowledging this allows us to dedicate more compassion and understanding towards not only others but ourselves. Understanding that we are human, and not expecting anything more than what our body and mind can handle, is a vital aspect of self-love and compassion.
It’s estimated that roughly 11 million Canadians will experience “high levels of stress in family and work settings,” according to Health Canada data revealed to Global News. Close to two million Canadians are predicted to show signs of “traumatic stress.” as a response to the situation.
Feelings of stress and worry are common symptoms that the virus plays on our mind, and must be dealt with in a compassionate and caring manner.
People react in different ways. Some common feelings may include, but are not limited to:
a sense of being socially excluded or judged
concern about your children's education and well-being
fear of getting sick with COVID-19 or of making others sick
worry about losing your job, not being able to work or finances
fear of being apart from loved ones due to isolation or physical distancing
helplessness, boredom, loneliness, and depression due to isolation or physical distancing
Being mindful of the common symptoms above allows us to extend more attention and time towards taking care of ourselves and those in our community. According to MHCC, a survey showed that those who engaged in at least one coping strategy had lower mental health concern scores. Some methods of establishing a healthier mindset and schedule are implementing some small habits that align with this vision.
One such instance includes maintaining relationships and connections, through the usage of technology. “Loneliness is about people’s levels of satisfaction with their connectedness or their perceived social isolation,” said Melanie Badli “It’s possible to be physically isolated right now and not feel lonely.” Incorporating a habit of connecting with one person per day, or pairing this idea with another task, such as going for a walk is a simple but valuable idea to resort to. Social isolation still permits the element of social media interactions and must be utilized to not only pass the time but to maintain relationships and evaluate and support other’s well being.
Despite the gift social media presents us with during this time, we must utilize it for things that will add value to our mental health as opposed to straining or depleting it. Dedicating too much time into the lives of others and not one’s own is a cause for an imbalance in health. One 2018 study found that “compulsive media use” triggered social media fatigue, ultimately leading to elevated anxiety and depression.
Taking the time to connect with the right people, and expose oneself to limited social media time are some ways to take care of one’s mental health. Working on self-development and generating one’s happiness to accumulate a positive mindset can be practiced in the form of gratitude, goal, and reflective journaling. Mindfulness and physical exercise are beautiful ways to replenish one’s mind and body and can be paired up with connecting with people in one’s household as well.
“There are more than 6,000 service providers employed with Homewood Health and Kids Help Phone who will deliver psycho-social support services via text and call,” said a Health Canada spokesperson. There are various free and accessible online resources including and interactive programs that will expose elements of connection and mental and physical health support during these uneasy times.
Resources are available and not limited to young people, adults, and seniors from all walks of life. Please do take the time to connect to these resources, if ever feeling overwhelmed. These opportunities are not simply available to only people diagnosed with a mental health condition but can be resorted to before feelings of anxiety and stress begin to fester.
We must rely on the community to take care of us, and extend the same compassion to others. Below, are some resources to consider utilizing:
Virtual counseling services: https://cmha.bc.ca/covid-19/
Peer Support and Navigation: https://cmha.bc.ca/covid-19/
Living Life To The Fullest: https://livinglifetothefull.ca/
Psychological support: https://www.psychologists.bc.ca/covid-19-resources
More resources for parents, seniors, and youth: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/virtual-supports-covid-19
Coping with COVID (stress, anxiety, grief, etc.): https://www.camh.ca/en/health-info/mental-health-and-covid-19
By Sanjana Karthik
In collaboration with YWMTU (@yourwordsmattertous)