“We say we’re fine, even when the truth is we’re ecstatic, exhausted, grateful. Or even freaking out. Every time we just go through the emotions, we miss out on the chance to connect for real. In times of crisis like this, we need each other more than ever. Connecting doesn’t just feel good – it’s good for our mental health.” – Canadian Mental Health Association
I’ve done this. I’ll bet you have too. Especially now.
According to Morneau Shepell’s Mental Health Index, “Canadians’ mental health (over the last five months) continues to be affected by the impact of COVID-19, including concerns about a second wave, ongoing economic uncertainties”.
We are stressed about adjusting to new routines, especially at home. The Index also shows that half of us (49 per cent) are worried about the pandemic’s ongoing impact on finances and the economy.
Mental Illness Awareness Week, (World Mental Health Day – October 10), is the ideal time to take a pause on the relentless terror that is 2020, and do a gut check: is what you are feeling part of a normal cycle of ups and downs or is it something more?
We all react to stress differently. That thing that annoys you, might debilitate me. And the tricky thing is that stressors can layer, making everything seem worse.
According to Dr. Lori Ann Blessing, a Clinical, Health and Rehabilitation Psychologist, early warning signs of possible stress can be either physical or mental:
- Body aches
- Stomach pain
- Frequent or sustained illness
- Irregular heart rate
- Restlessness and lacking focus
- Extreme demotivation
- Worry or feeling overwhelmed
- Unusual sleep patterns
When we feel like this, the tendency is to withdraw. But in fact, as the CMHA advises, the best solution is to connect. Reach out to your friends and family – and watch out for them as well.
Two amazing tools to support Canadians’ mental health that we’ve been using and encouraging others to use at KLC, are our client Morneau Shepell’s WellCan and AbilitiCBT resources. WellCan is a free hub of mental health resources and tools to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic. AbilitiCBT is an internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy program that Canadians can access from any device, any time, and connects individuals to professional therapists to help guide them through helpful modules. The program is free to Ontarian and Manitoban residents (thanks to partnerships with the provincial governments!), and really helps to examine your thought patterns, emotional responses and behaviours to improve your health and wellbeing during this time.
“…It’s critical that all Canadians continue to be accountable for their own health, maintain open communication and actively invest in their own mental well-being. We each need to look for changes in our friends and family and offer support for those needing professional help,” – Paula Allen, senior vice president of research, analytics and innovation at Morneau Shepell.