As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads across the globe and countries have instituted measures such as physical distancing and social isolation to slow the spread of the virus, some are struggling to maintain their mental health.
A release form the British Columbia Centre for Disease Control regarding the mental health of self-isolating individuals states that these individuals may experience high levels of stress and that isolation may heighten pre-existing emotional difficulties.
“Confinement, loss of routine, separation from loved ones and reduced social and physical contact is a major cause of boredom, frustration, stress and distress,” said the release. “Loss of income and financial strain may be a significant stressor, while some individuals may be concerned about medical conditions and treatment requirements. Isolation may also intensify pre-existing stressors or emotional difficulties, which in turn can heighten feelings of isolation.”
Stephanie Aaslie, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) program co-ordinator in Quesnel, says it is important for people to remember that during this time that they have to keep a physical distance from one another, it is important not to forego their emotional connection to friends and family.
“We encourage people to remember that social distancing does not mean no connection — it is still really important to connect with family and friends and other supports,” said Aaslie.
Aaslie recommends that individuals who are self-isolating try to keep their daily routines as close to their “normal” as they can in order to maintain their mental health.
“I think trying to keep things as normal as possible — it’s a new normal right now — but still trying to keep that routine, get up when you would typically get up, go to bed when you would typically go to bed, get dressed during the day, those types of things that you do will help you feel better,” she said.
Aaslie says anyone who is beginning to feel as though their mental health is deteriorating during this time should not hesitate to reach out to friends and family and communicate over the phone or Internet, go for a walk outside while making sure to practise safe social distancing, or take advantage of some of the free mental health resources available.
BounceBack, HeretoHelp and B.C. COVID-19 Mental Health Network are three resources that Aaslie recommends to those in need of some help with their mental health during this time.
BounceBack is a free skill-building program for individuals aged 15 and older, which is delivered online or over the phone and is designed to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety and stress. More information can be found at bouncebackbc.ca.
HeretoHelp is an online resource project from seven leading mental health and substance use non-profit agencies, which provides access to quality information on mental health, mental illness and substance use. The resource library and more information can be found at heretohelp.bc.ca.
The B.C. COVID-19 Mental Health Network is a network of emerging British Columbia-based mental health professionals who are volunteering to support communities through free short-term one-on-one counselling online or via telephone for individuals struggling with issues related to the pandemic. Individuals who would like to inquire about an appointment are asked to email email@example.com.
Aaslie says although the CMHA office in Quesnel is currently closed to the public, they are still here to support the community and are encouraging individuals to access their online and telephone support. They are also still available for scheduled in-person one-on-one meetings, ensuring social distancing guidelines will be followed.
For more information on resources currently being offered by the CMHA in Quesnel, individuals can call 236-424-1946 or find updates on the Canadian Mental Health Association Facebook page.