With experts warning of a mental illness "echo pandemic" that occurred after the COVID-19 outbreak, mental health experts say that what Canadians do with their time of self-isolation is the key to dealing with feelings of anxiety and depression.
Amid daily government briefings, headlines on gloomy results profiles and the general discomfort of wondering when, if ever, life will return to normal, experts say the best that anyone can do is take their emotions day after day. day.
“Try to focus on what you can do. What is under your control day after day, ”Toronto clinical psychologist Vivien Lee told CTVNews.ca by phone on Friday.
"We all have to worry about the long term, absolutely, but if we focus mainly on that, we're going to spiral into this & # 39; what if & # 39; narrative."
Lee says Canadians manage their mental health while isolating themselves, going a long way in life after the pandemic. This starts with accepting the current reality of life, physically distancing yourself and finding logical solutions to keep life as normal as possible.
“There are many things that you cannot do. You can't go to the gym, so what can you do for some physical activity? What options are there for buying groceries or food? Who can you ask to deliver? You can solve the problem of entering every day, ”asks Lee.
Like the virus, struggles with mental health affect people of all ages, education, income levels and cultures.
It is estimated that one in five Canadians personally experience a mental health problem or illness each year, with eight percent of adults experiencing major depression at some point in their lives.
But a pandemic presents an entirely new mental health scenario to navigate.
Research has shown that there is a "mental tremor" that occurs after events that change the world, such as the SARS outbreak or the September 11 terrorist attacks, causing an increase in anxiety and depression.
"With health concerns coming out of COVID-19, the economic consequences, people's financial challenges and the economic challenges that our country will face … there will be a need for mental health services in the coming weeks and months," Joe Blomeley, executive vice president of public sector and mental health at Green Shield Canada, told CTVNews.ca by phone on Friday.
In partnership with Beacon-guided digital therapy, Green Shield Canada (GSC) sponsored a free digital program to help Canadians cope with the COVID-19 crisis.
The program, called stronger minds, takes the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy and makes it available to the masses, according to Blomeley.
“(The program) focuses on recognizing and changing useless thought patterns, building resilience and developing personal coping strategies, he said.
"You will receive videos and quick readings from high-level mental health experts, activities and workbooks to help build resilience during the crisis, and then there will be a mechanism to feed questions to the Beacon. Every two days, you request a specialized video in response to questions. "
Blomeley says the program, available for free to all Canadians from April 6, was initiated thanks to the growing demand for more digital mental health services.
CANADANS MAY EMERGE & # 39; MORE CARE, COMPASS & # 39; AFTER COVID-19
Despite ongoing concerns and calls for mental health support, some research suggests that Canadians are finding ways to stay positive during the pandemic.
A study by Anstice, a marketing research and communication company in Calgary, found that 67% of Canadians say the basics of life – health, family and friends – are the most important things in the face of the pandemic.
Dr. Mark Szabo, director of insights and engagement at Anstice, says that in the survey of 800 people, most said they valued the meaning of materialism and reevaluated their consumption habits to include a budget for donations to charities.
"It's a very, very different picture than we could have seen a few months ago," Szabo told CTVNews.ca by phone on Friday.
“It seems to be turning consumerism a little … more donating to charities, more generosity to strangers. Number one is being compassionate. "
When it comes to navigating everyday life in an uncertain time, Lee says that creating a new daily routine and stick to it is especially important. This means waking up at the same time each day – regardless of the appearance of your professional life – and maintaining meals regularly.
For those suffering from anxiety about the unprecedented level of news coverage surrounding the pandemic, the psychologist recommends limiting media consumption throughout the day and designating certain times to digest this information.
"Communicate ahead of time how the self-care time and self-care time will be," she said. "Even if we are living in very small spaces, everyone should have time alone each day."
For those who live alone, Lee emphasizes the importance of finding new ways to be social.
“Many of us, when we feel anxious and overwhelmed, tend to confine, which is natural. But if we do too much, for too long, we will be really sinking into our stress and anxiety, instead of connecting with others, ”she said.
“No, we can't go to a party and hug people. But we are lucky to have technology to try to stay connected. Try Facebook support groups, for example, or video chats. "
If you feel anxious, Lee recommends focused activities, like coloring or building puzzles, to keep your mind busy.
“Some people may have some old hobbies with which they have lost contact. Maybe they have an old guitar or maybe they still enjoy cooking, ”she said. "Maybe try to rediscover or enter new hobbies or learn a new language with all these free apps."