Responding to Stressful Events

The impact of a stressful event can be immediate or delayed, and those affected directly or indirectly can feel a range of emotions and reactions.

During stressful events our reactions can affect us physically or emotionally. It can affect our thinking.
You might have trouble sleeping, eating, or paying attention. Many people have short tempers and get angry easily. You may have strong feelings right away. Or you may not notice a change until much later, after the crisis is over. Stress can change how you act with your friends and family.

These are normal reactions to stress and it may take time before you feel better and life returns to normal. Give yourself time to heal. It's OK to NOT be Ok

Things you can do:

Focus on what needs to happen today. Try to:

  • Spend time with family and friends
  • Eat  meals together.
  • Help other people in your community as a volunteer. Stay busy.
  • Accept help from family, friends, co-workers, or clergy. Talk about your feelings with them.
  • Reach out for support when needed

Online resources include:

When should I get help?

Sometimes we need to get help from a health professional such as a psychologist, family doctor, psychiatrist, social worker or nurse. Ask for help if you:

  • Are not able to take care of yourself or your children.
  • Are not able to do your job.
  • Use alcohol or drugs to get away from your feelings.
  • Feel extremely helpless.
  • Feel sad or depressed for more than two weeks.
  • Having thoughts of hurting self or others
  • Think about suicide.

Where can I get help?

Ottawa residents and families can access community mental health resources available in Ottawa: 

  • The Distress Centre answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with crisis line specialists providing confidential support. Callers can reach the Centre at 613-238-3311.
  • The Mental Health Crisis Line answers calls for people ages 16 or older 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can reach the line at 613-722-6914. 
  • Tel-Aide Outaouais offers French-language mental health telephone support from 8 a.m. to midnight every day. Ottawa residents can call 613-741-6433 and Gatineau residents can contact 819-775-3223.
  • The Kids Help Phone provides confidential 24/7 phone (1-800-668-6868), Live Chat (kidshelpphone.ca) and text (text TALK to 686868) counselling support to children, youth and young adults. 
  • The Youth Services Bureau (YSB) provides youth and family counselling, crisis support, a 24/7 crisis line at 613-260-2360, walk-in counselling and an online crisis chat service for youth at chat.ysb.ca.
  • The Walk-In Counselling Clinics provide free, confidential single session counselling sessions throughout Ottawa
  • Ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY 613-580-9656).
  • 211 connects callers to community, social, government and health service information in Ottawa 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and multilingual.

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