Mental health and Coronavirus

The number of cases of the novel coronavirus is only increasing, as is the associated anxiety. The mental health effects of COVID-19 are just as important to address as the physical ones. Anxiety is a normal reaction to uncertainty and things that could ham us. This illness and pandemic, for many of us, creates a very uncertain future. People are worrying about their own health and the health of their loved ones, here and abroad. Concerns are popping up from all avenues, including work or school, finances, their ability to take part in their community events and important hobbies, and other important parts of their lives that include leaving their home. People who already experience anxiety at this point, may feel it worsening. This stress can include:

  1. Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones
  2. Changes in sleep or concentrating
  3. Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  4. Worsening of chronic health problems
  5. Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs.

If you are feeling this way, there are a few things that you can do to assist in your own mental health at this point. They are:

  1. Take Care of Yourself: Eat as well as possible, exercise regularly, get enough sleep, and make time for hobbies
  2. Stay Connected with Family and Friends: Isolating yourself from others, like staying home from school or working from home for longer periods of time, can affect your mood big time. Find ways to connect with people you care about in other ways. If you can’t see someone in person, you can still reach out by phone, text, or video call.
  3. Help Others if You Can: Ask family members, friends, or neighbours if they need anything, such as groceries or other household needs. Checking in regularly by phone, text, or video call can make a big difference. Helping others most includes being mindful of the supplies you have at home, excessive stockpiling means that your neighbours and other community members no longer have access to those supplies.
  4. Cut Back on Time Spent on Social Media and the News: Chances are, you’re at home all day, and the most tempting thing is to sit on your phone and scroll through social media all day. It is important to be informed, but constantly checking for updates or reading sensationalized stories can really take a toll on your mental health. Stick to a trusted, verified news source, and limit yourself if social media or news stories increase your anxiety.


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Accessing Assistance

If anxiety keeps worsening, there are places that you can seek help and resources from, that you can gather from inside your home. The first of these is a self-directed course from the Canadian Mental Health Association called Bounce Back Online. There are a wide range of services, supports and education materials online at Help is also available through in the public mental health section. Gordon Asmundson, who is a psychology professor at the University of Regina said, “Try not to view this as ‘I’m stuck inside’ and instead view this as an opportunity to focus on yourself, your home, your family. Just slow things down a little bit and try to find some silver linings in the very difficult situation.”