Mental Health During the Covid19 Pandemic
It had been almost eight months since lockdown officially started in major Canadia cities. Since then, we have seen rises and falls in the numbers of Covid-19 cases. Every time the end was in sight, it was, unfortunately, soon ripped away by another increase in cases. By now, people are wondering: “Will life ever go back to normal?” That is a question we cannot answer. However, what we can do is learn to adapt to this new world in a healthy way.
Being unable to live life as we had before 2020 has had a monumental effect on our mental health, and validly so. Many individuals may feel alone in a time like this. However, it is important to realize that everyone is facing the pandemic together. With school closures, job losses, and long-term social distancing measures becoming an unfortunate reality, feeling down, anxious, and overall unproductive is completely normal. Additionally, the closures of certain institutions have limited the treatment resources necessary for individuals who have pre-existing mental health concerns.
Here are some effective ways to manage mental health during these challenging times:
1. Acknowledge your emotions. Rather than suppressing feelings of anxiousness or sadness, it is better to become aware of and accept these feelings. Acknowledging these feelings allows you to confront and overcome your own negative thoughts regarding the pandemic. Acceptance is the first step towards better mental health management.
2. Find time to talk to friends and family. Humans are naturally social animals, so being deprived of social interaction can have a heavy toll on mental health. However, despite having social distancing measures in place, we are still able to talk to friends and family thanks to technology! Aside from talking for the sake of socializing, talking with others about your feelings about the pandemic can help take a load off your shoulders. Talking to someone else who understands your feelings, or maybe even feels the same way, is greatly beneficial. Instead of bottling up your mental health concerns, try talking to family members or friends about how you feel. If you don’t feel comfortable talking about mental health with friends and family, there are some helpful online resources to take advantage of at the bottom of this page!
3. Limit exposure to media regarding the pandemic. One of the main sources of anxiety about pandemic likely stems from the media. In many cases, media companies release articles without any scientific information to back them up. As a result, limiting your exposure to news about the pandemic can decrease feelings of panic. However, if you do like to stay updated on the news, it is important to be able to tell reputable news sources (such as the news from the CDC, WHO, and the Canadian government) from popular news sources that may not necessarily have the scientific knowledge to back up their claims.
4. Take advantage of online mental health resources. The closure of many in-person mental health clinics and counseling offices does not mean that there are no resources at your disposal! The following list contains a wide variety of mental health resources.
Talk 4 Healing:
A fully confidential, 24/7 hotline for Indigenous women, by Indigenous women in Ontario. This service is available in English, French, Oji-Cree, Ojibway, Cree, Algonquin, Inuktitut, Mohawk, Oneida, Odawa, Potawatomi, Micmac, Black Foot, Anishinaabe, Moose Cree, and Swampy Cree
Phone: 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
Text: 1-855-554-HEAL (4325)
Warden Woods Community Centre COVID-19 All-in-One Support line
Provides support for:
Mental health support
Access to government support
Domestic violence prevention
This service is available from Monday to Friday, 10:00 am -2:30 pm
Victim Services Toronto
The Victim Crisis Response Program provides immediate on-scene crisis response, intervention, and prevention services to victims, survivors, family members, and witnesses of crime and sudden tragedies 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Also provides follow-up referrals to a wide range of programs, services and counseling. The Crisis Response team pairs a Crisis Counsellor with expertise in trauma management and crisis intervention with a trained volunteer. The Crisis Response Program is reflective of the diverse communities in Toronto and provides services in over 35 languages.
Crisis services Canada
Crisis hotline: 1-833-456-4566
Multilingual distress line
Provides emotional support, crisis intervention, and suicide prevention, intervention & postvention in English, Cantonese, Mandarin, Portuguese, Spanish, Hindi, Punjabi, and Urdu, Monday to Friday from 10:00 am to 10:00 pm EST. For at-risk and vulnerable individuals in Peel Region.
Provides peer support by trans people for trans and questioning callers. Crisis and other supports and resources are provided in both English and Spanish from 10:00 am to 4:00 am EST.
Provides peer support by and for 2SLGBTQ+ people 29 and under across Ontario. Trained peer support volunteers with a diversity of 2SLGBTQ+ identities provide a range of supports, including questioning gender identity/sexual orientation; coming out; mental health; relationships; social isolation; and referrals to further supports. Phone, text, and chat are available from Sunday to Friday, 4:00 pm to 9:30 pm EST. This is not a crisis line. Those in immediate crisis will be referred to their local distress center, Kids Help Phone, or Trans Lifeline. Please note that the phone line is currently unavailable, but text and chat support remain available. Check youthline.ca for updates.
An international hotline that provides youth and particularly Muslim youth with the tools needed to address a range of issues including mental health, drugs and alcohol, bullying, religion, marriage and divorce, domestic issues, pornography, and career or work-related issues. Peer-counselors provide immediate, anonymous, and confidential support over the phone from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm, 7 days a week, and text support from 12:00 pm to 9:00 pm, Monday to Friday.
Phone: 1-866-627-3342 (NASEEHA)
Text: 1 (866) 627-3342 (NASEEHA)
Black Youth Helpline
This multicultural youth helpline and service serves all youth and specifically responds to the needs of Black youth. Contact the helpline results in a professional, culturally relevant assessment aimed at identifying the root causes of problems and informs the next steps. The helpline can be accessed by youth, families, schools, and other stakeholders. The service is provided in English. French and other languages available upon request. Other languages are available upon request. This is not a crisis line. The helpline is open from 9 am to 10 pm, 7 days a week. Clients can also submit service requests 24 hours a day using the 'contact us form' on the website blackyouth.ca.
Toronto phone: 416-285-9944
National phone: 1-833-294-8650
Toronto Seniors Helpline/ Woodgreen Crisis Outreach Services for Seniors
The helpline provides information about home care and community care and offers over-the-phone supportive counseling, de-escalation, and safety planning to seniors in emotional distress or crisis from 9:00 am to 8:00 pm Monday to Friday and 10:00 am to 6:00 pm on weekends. The helpline can connect callers to Woodgreen’s mobile crisis intervention and outreach service for adults 65+ with dementia, addictions, or mental illness who need temporary, short-term support. The mobile service is staffed by crisis workers who can provide in-person assessment, crisis counseling, short-term intensive case management, harm reduction and concurrent disorder services, mental health and addictions support, and referrals to other services. The mobile crisis team is available 365 days a year from 9:00 am-5:00 pm.