By: Chidera Kingsley-Emu

Anxiety, stress, and public fear are high during the coronavirus pandemic. Social distancing means staying inside and staying apart to ‘flatten the curve’ and stop the spread of COVID-19. While we look out for our physical health, mental health is just as important.

Morneau Shepell’s recent Mental Health Index reveals that the pandemic has caused a 16% drop in Canadians mental health, “81% of respondents reported that COVID-19 is negatively impacting their mental health…” While staying inside reduces the chances of contracting the virus, it is proving to be damaging to mental health. As COVID-19 escalates, the reality is that anxiety and stress will continue to worsen.

Many companies are already attempting to aid with mental health. “…[W]e recognize that COVID-19 [will] have impacts upon people’s mental health. Social connection and belonging are core to good mental health. We are hearing from more people who are anxious and scared. That’s why we are working hard to shift as many of our services to phone and online,” said Jonny Morris, Chief Executive Officer of the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA), BC Division.

Mental health organizations have switched to phone and online sessions to continue to aid Canadians. Kelowna Psychologists Group and CMHA are among the many that are doing this. In response to the increased need for mental health care, Morneau Shepell created WellCan, a hub of sustainable free resources for Canadians seeking help. It is an app available on the Appstore and Google Play that provides mental health assessments, wellness content, and telehealth directory that allows users to navigate through public telehealth services and support resources within their provinces.

Shirley Hutchinson, a lecturer of Psychology at The University of British Columbia, says, “It is incredibly important to take care of our mental health during this uncertain time. [There are] some links that would be worth sharing with students during this difficult time”. These links are available on the UBC website.

So how do people cope during this period? My Workplace Health released seven tips to Manage Anxiety about Coronavirus on their website. A daily challenge/tips on self-care newsletter created by Dr. Joti Samra, CEO of R. Psych and Associates, can also aid during this time.

If you are struggling with anxiety that is affecting your ability to maintain regular activities, do not hesitate to seek additional support. The interior crisis line is also open to anyone who needs additional mental health support. Lines are open for you 24/7 at 1-888-353-2273.