Protecting Your Mental Health

Protecting Your Mental Health

The COVID-19 situation can be very stressful. It is really important to take care of our mental health during challenging times like this. 

Ottawa Public Health and The Royal Mental Health Centre have collaborated to produce the “Protecting Your Mental Health” series to help protect and promote mental health in our community. 

Check out the resources in this series for ideas on how you can protect you and your families’ mental health, as well as information about how and where to access mental health supports. 

We are all in this together! 

How can we practice being resilient?

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Protecting your Mental Health 
How can we practice being resilient?

The COVID-19 situation can be stressful for many of us. Images from media, changes to our routines and not seeing family and friends, can be challenging. It is normal to feel stress at times like these. Our resilience level is how we get through these challenges and recover afterwards. Being resilient is a skill that we can learn at any age. We can also improve our resilience throughout our life. 
Here are some tips to help be more resilient: 

1. Think of strategies that helped you cope with stress in the past.

Which of those strategies worked well for you? Can you use some of those strategies now? “Music and exercise are the two activities that most consistently help us manage anxiety or depression so get out your playlist or build a new one. You can also find exercise websites online. For example, Yoga with Adriene at yogawithadriene.com.” - Dr. Gail Beck, Clinical Director of The Royal’s Youth Program. 

2. You can't change the fact that highly stressful events happen, but you can change how you respond to these events.

“We have an opportunity, on a scale never seen, together with the rest of humanity, to foster kindness, and bravery that will transform this tragic but temporary situation into something much more meaningful. Hope and the choice to adapt and improve, can be just as contagious, but more constructive and powerful. And it is something we all need to work on in these uncertain times. If we do, we will all be stronger afterwards.” - Dr. Tim Lau, psychiatrist and President of the Medical Staff at The Royal.

3. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings and stay connected with people you trust via phone, social media or video conferencing.

4. If you are not on self-isolation, go for a walk. 
Remember to practice physical distancing and stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from others.

5. Keep your routines as much as possible.
Make a schedule or timetable to help your children and family keep regular routines.

6. Practice positive self-talk and think of yourself in a positive way. 
The way we think about things affects our feelings and actions. Thinking positively can help you overcome a challenge.

“Focus on the positive and what you can do. Honour people’s contributions to improving the situation. Look for the good; practice gratitude; discover meaningful activities; find ways to practice creativity; discover fun, enjoyable, uplifting distractions and activities; read inspirational material and affirmations.” – Juliet Haynes, MSW, RSW, Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal.

7. Remember that it’s ok not to be ok.

“It would be somewhat odd not to have a certain degree of anxiety during a time of such uncertainty,” says Dr. Raj Bhatla, psychiatrist-in-chief and chief of staff at The Royal. “The anxiety piece is normal. The real question is, how do you cope with the anxiety, and how do you continue to do some of the things that help with anxiety?”

“It starts with acknowledging that the COVID-19 pandemic has landed us in unchartered territory. That requires us to do a bit of a check-in: ‘How am I? What are my emotions like today? What can I do with what I've got?’ Look at your day and put together a plan of how you can be most positive and constructive. What is within your control today? What do you have today that you know to be useful for yourself? Looking too far toward the future, meanwhile, is not such a great idea. It's best to take things one day at a time.” – Ann-Marie O'Brien, Professional Practice Lead and Social Worker at The Royal

If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth.

You are not alone.
We are all in this together! 

How to help your children cope?

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Protecting Your Mental Health

How to help your children cope? 

The COVID-19 situation can be challenging for many of us, including our kids. It is normal for them to feel stress during this time with so many changes in their lives.
There are some things that we can do to help our kids get through these times. And the good news is that the resilience and coping skills they learn now will help them later in life as well.


1. Realize that your children may experience many different emotions.
This is not a normal situation, and it is normal for your children to feel emotional right now. Help your child decrease their stress by getting enough sleep, eating healthy foods and staying active.

“If you can take time at the end of the day, just to sit with someone and say ‘we’re all feeling uneasy now and I thought maybe’ – some youth may turn it away but others don’t – ‘I’m just going to sit here and if you want to say something you can and if you don’t, you don’t have to.’ - Dr. Gail Beck, Psychiatrist at The Royal, interview (part 1) with Daniel Alfredsson https://youtu.be/AhenU-D0ddc?t=155 

2. Be patient with yourself and with your children.
Try to keep calm with your kids and help them to understand the current situation as best you can. But realize that you may also be feeling stress and pressure at this time. Be patient with yourself and look for supports. 
Help your child to be more resilient. For example, try some deep breathing or meditation techniques together. For more information on how to support your children, visit our Parenting in Ottawa site.

“These are extraordinary times. During times like these, the basics are really important – proper sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. Each member of your family will cope in their own way. Remember to give each other space in whatever way you can manage. If possible, have a space that is ‘adults only.’” - Ann-Marie O'Brien, Professional Practice Lead and Social Worker at The Royal. https://www.theroyal.ca/news/covid-19-qa-maintaining-mental-health-big-family

3. Maintain a routine.
As much as possible, keep a similar routine to the one that you had before the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, try to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day. Having a routine will help both you and your children during this time.
“The one thing I’ve heard from everyone, every youth, and now my grown up sons, is for them to have a routine. So we are finding in the program, that the young people who set their routine early, are doing best.” - Dr. Gail Beck, Psychiatrist at The Royal, interview (part 1) with Daniel Alfredsson https://youtu.be/AhenU-D0ddc?t=52

4. Ensure that you build in some fun into their day.
Make sure to have fun with your kids everyday. Balancing home schooling, work, and other pressures can be overwhelming. Take breaks and have fun with your kids. Try a board game, dance or sing together. 
“One thing my son spoke about and the athletic youth in our program spoke about was the need for ongoing exercise. To use it to break up a day, there’s a lot of evidence that something active in between periods of learning, really helps consolidate learning.”
- Dr. Gail Beck, Psychiatrist at The Royal, interview (part 1) with Daniel Alfredsson, https://youtu.be/AhenU-D0ddc?t=97

5. Stay connected with loved ones.
Even if you cannot visit your loved ones in person at this time, it is important to stay connected. Call or text your family and friends or stay in touch through social media. Consider video chats as a way for your kids to see their loved ones. The Royal has some great tips here: https://www.theroyal.ca/great-big-list-things-can-help-you-cope-while-practicing-physical-distancing-and-self-isolation

6. Seek out more support if you need it. 
It is normal to feel the stress and pressure of this situation. If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.
Counselling Connect provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.
For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth
If you are looking for additional mental health services for youth, children and families please contact 613-260-2360 or 1-877-377-7775 and the online chat at chat.ysb.ca.

You are not alone. We are all in this together!

What can you do to stay connected during self-isolation?

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Protecting your Mental Health
What can you do to stay connected during self-isolation?

Self-isolation is critical in preventing the spread of COVID-19. Self-isolation helps to protect your family, friends, neighbours and everyone else in our community. We must all do our part to keep each other safe.
Although it is the right thing to do, it does not mean it is the easy thing to do. Being in self-isolation does not mean you are alone. You can still stay in touch with those you love, and the outside world. Here are some tips to stay connected!

1. Use technology to reach out!
Connect with family and friends through the phone, texting, video chats and social media. Ask your friends and family how they are coping and talk about how you can get through this together. Digital tools like Skype, Google Hangout, and Facetime are a great way to have face-to-face conversations while maintaining physical distancing. If you are missing games night, play online. Share traditions, sing or dance together. You can even have dinner together on video. Being at home does not mean being alone. 

2. Use technology to connect to the world outside.
You can learn a new hobby or activity online. You could try a new exercise class or learn a new skill. Many museums and art galleries have online tours, or you could learn a new language. You can stay physically and mentally healthy by trying new things!

https://www.theroyal.ca/great-big-list-things-can-help-you-cope-while-practicing-physical-distancing-and-self-isolation 

3. Send a loved one a care package, card or letter to let them know you are thinking of them. 
Include things you already have at home like photos or books, or regift something you aren't using anymore. This is a kind gesture and will let your loved one know that you are there for them. Please remember that if you are feeling ill, do not prepare and send care packages. For a list of COVID-19 symptoms, go to OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus.

4. Check out services that provide over the phone support.
The Good Companions Seniors Centre offers programs for older adults and adults with physical disabilities including Senior Centres Without Walls and the Telephone Assistance ProgramA Friendly Voice is a telephone friendly visiting line for seniors offered by Rural Ottawa South Support Services.

Learn about other phone, text, chat and online resources to support your mental health during this time on Ottawa Public Health’s Mental Health and COVID-19 webpage. Bell Let’s Talk and the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health have some great information on coping with stress and protecting your mental health. 
Other suggestions that might be a good fit for you include:

5. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay.
This is a very unusual time and it is completely normal to find it challenging. You are not alone. There are people who can help. If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth.

More ideas about staying connected can be found here: https://www.theroyal.ca/great-big-list-things-can-help-you-cope-while-practicing-physical-distancing-and-self-isolation 

You are not alone.
We are all in this together! 

 What you can do as an older adult?
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Protecting Your Mental Health
What You Can Do as an Older Adult?

The COVID-19 situation can be stressful for many of us, and even more so for older people with mobility issues, and those over 70 who are told to self-isolate. Here are some things we can all do to stay mentally well during these difficult times.

1. Use technology to reach out.

Connect with family and friends through the phone, texting, video chats, and social media. Reconnect with friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Ask your friends and family how they are coping and talk about how you can get through this together. Digital tools like Skype, Zoom, Google Hangout, and Facetime are a great way to have face-to-face conversations while maintaining physical distancing. You can also stay in touch with the people in your immediate area through a neighbourhood Facebook group. Many people are sharing tips, resources, and support, in these community groups. Check out www.ConnectedCanadians.ca to learn about their technology and training programs.

2. Use technology to connect to the world outside.

Visit a museum (www.Nature.ca) or art gallery (www.Gallery.ca) online. Learn a new hobby or activity online. Try a new exercise class or learn a new skill. “Most wireless companies have become more forgiving of wireless usage so why not take advantage of this? You can also download a magazine from the library or a film or an audiobook. CBC has all of its programming available free for the time being; this will provide a lot of entertainment for you and your family.” - Dr. Gail Beck, Clinical Director of The Royal’s Youth Program

3. Send cards or letters to let loved ones know you are thinking of them.

Remember, there are people who can help you get through this.

Community connections that offer phone support

Community Supports that offer emotional support

Clinical Supports

  • The C-PROMPT clinic is a temporary outpatient clinic established at The Royal to meet urgent mental health care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The C-PROMPT clinic is staffed by a team of mental health nurses, psychiatrists, psychologists and social workers who provide services like urgent assessments, medication support, short-term psychotherapy, and help with accessing other services as required. Ask your health care provider for a referral.
  • Geriatric Psychiatry Community Services of Ottawa (613-562-9777 ext. 0) supports people over 65 living with mental health problems (not in a long-term care home, and those under 65 with dementia and having behavioral or psychological symptoms.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth. 

You are not alone.
We are all in this together!

 What can you do as an essential worker?

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Protecting Your Mental Health
What can you do as an essential worker?

During COVID-19, many people are working from home, self-isolating or not working because their workplace has closed. However, there are many essential workers still going to work to keep our community going. We want to thank each and every one of you for the important work you are doing!
Every day that you go to work you are putting others first. That is why it is so important to take care of yourself too. Please take these steps to protect your own mental health at this very challenging time:

1. Take time off to rest.
It may be a hard thing for you to do to at this time, but it is so important to take your breaks and take time off. Being away from work and resting will give you the strength and mental energy you need to keep doing the work you are doing. “Set boundaries – strive for work-life balance. Take breaks, especially media breaks! Recognize those things within your control and choices you can make. We only have power over ourselves and our reactions/responses!” - Juliet Haynes, MSW, RSW, Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal.

2. Practice self-care.

Build up your inner strength by eating well, getting fresh air and exercise when and where you can, and doing the things that make you feel good. Be wary of increased substance use. “Meet basic needs – attend to personal hygiene. Be mindful of self-care. Practice relaxation by slowing down your breathing and scheduling ‘nothing time.’ Exercise.” – Juliet Haynes, MSW, RSW, Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal.

3. Get a good night’s sleep.
It might be a challenge but try and go to sleep and wake up at the same time every night. Develop a relaxing bedtime routine and put your mobile phone away in the evenings. For additional sleep tips from the experts, check out this page on theroyal.ca. https://www.theroyal.ca/news/covid-19-qa-good-sleep-troubled-times 

4. Limit the amount of time you spend thinking about COVID-19. 
Staying informed is important. However, no matter what your job is, you see the reality of the current situation every day that you are at work. When you are away from work take this time to do things you enjoy. Dr. Bhatla, Chief of Staff at The Royal, recommends checking your favourite news source once or twice a day and then stepping away from the screen.
If you do want to stay up to date on the situation with COVID-19 go to trusted resources like OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus

5. Stay connected with your loved ones.
When you are working, you are busy. Use some of your time off to reach out to your loved ones and stay connected. Call or text your family and friends or stay in touch through social media or online chats. Maybe send a letter to people you don’t see often. 
“Use virtual means to connect with friends, family, colleagues, and other supports. Schedule regular check-ins with others. Are you living with people or pets? – hug them! Hug a teddy bear! Give yourself some self-love!” – Juliet Haynes, MSW, RSW, Family Engagement and Experience Coordinator at The Royal. 

6. Seek out more support if you need it. It’s okay to not be okay.
The work that you are doing is so important. But it is normal to feel the stress and pressure of this situation. Please reach out for further support if needed. If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.
For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth.

If you are a healthcare worker, COVID Frontline Wellness is here to support your well-being. Please visit the website at theroyal.ca/covid-frontline-wellness.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

Thank you for your ongoing work to keep our community safe and healthy!

You are not alone.
We are all in this together!

 What can you do when working from home?

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Protecting Your Mental Health
What can you do when working from home?

Many people are working from home during the current pandemic, some for the first time. This situation has required many people to adapt and adapt very quickly. Many people are trying to maintain a work routine as well as balancing other responsibilities. This can include new challenges with childcare or eldercare. This can also include finding a proper workspace and dealing with feelings of loneliness while practicing physical distancing.
Know that the sacrifices you are making now have meaning. Adapting your way of working is helping to keep others safe. Thank you! Here are some ways to protect your mental health. 

1. While this situation is not normal, it is important to try to maintain some routine.
For example, try to go to bed and wake up at similar times every day. “Look at your day and put together a plan of how you can be most positive and constructive. Looking too far toward the future, meanwhile, is not such a great idea. It's best to take things one day at a time.” – Ann-Marie O'Brien, Professional Practice Lead and Social Worker at The Royal. 

2. Set up a designated workspace.
If you have room in your home, make a designated workspace. This helps you to take breaks from your work and feel like you are not always on. 

3. Be patient with your self and others in your household.
This is a new situation and it takes time to develop new routines. If you have children at home, they are also dealing with these changes. It is normal for them to have emotional reactions. “During times like these, the basics are really important – proper sleep, good nutrition, and exercise. Each member of your family will cope in their own way. Remember to give each other space in whatever way you can manage. If possible, have a space that is ‘adults only.” – Ann-Marie O'Brien, Professional Practice Lead and Social Worker at The Royal.

For more information on how to support your children, visit our section for parents

4. Find the humour and joy in the situation.
Maybe it’s laughing during a teleconference meeting as you all learn new technology; getting to spend more time with family or learning a new skill. Look for things that make you smile. 

5. Limit the amount of time you spend thinking about COVID-19.
Staying informed is important. However, to protect your mental health, it is important to limit your time on COVID-19 media. Keep in mind there comes a point when binging on news isn’t helpful anymore and can even add to our feelings of anxiety. Dr. Bhatla, Chief of Staff at The Royal, recommends checking your favourite news source once or twice a day and then stepping away from the screen. If you want to stay up to date, go to trusted resources like OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus

6. Stay connected with loved ones.
You are busy when working but you can use some of your time off to connect with loved ones. Call or text your family and friends or stay in touch through social media or online chats. Maybe send a letter to people you don’t see often. Self isolation doesn’t have to be mental isolation. Dr. Andrew Jacobs, a psychologist at The Royal, suggests this might be a good time to rekindle old connections. “Maybe it’s time to call someone you haven’t spoken to for months... and to build that community so that you feel that sense of support whether or not you’re seeing the person face to face.” 

7. Seek out more support if you need it.
It is normal to feel the stress and pressure of this situation. 

If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth. 

You are not alone.
We are all in this together!

 What if you lose your job?

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Protecting Your Mental Health 
What if you lose your job?

The current COVID-19 pandemic is a stressful time for everyone. As well as the worry about COVID-19, some people have been laid off and may be struggling financially. We encourage you to use the help available from our FederalProvincial, and Local governments. It is also very important to do what you can to protect your mental health.

1. Limit the time you spend thinking about COVID-19.
It is good to know what is happening but listening to the news too much can affect your mental health. Make sure to do other things that you enjoy. This will help take your mind off the current situation. 
Dr. Bhatla, Chief of Staff at The Royal, recommends checking your favourite news source once or twice a day and then stepping away from the screen.
When you do want to know about COVID-19 and how to stay safe, use credible sources of information, such as OttawaPublicHealth.ca/Coronavirus.

2. Keep a routine and daily schedule.

While you may not be waking up at your regular time to go to work, it is good for your mental health to keep a routine. Try to get up and go to bed around the same time every day. Even if you are not going out to work, you can still have a shower and get dressed as if you were.
“Look at your day and put together a plan of how you can be most positive and constructive. Looking too far toward the future, meanwhile, is not such a great idea. It's best to take things one day at a time.” – Ann-Marie O'Brien, Professional Practice Lead and Social Worker at The Royal.

3. Eat healthy foods and stay physically active.

Make sure your body gets the healthy food it needs to stay physically and mentally well. Try to exercise regularly as well. You can do a lot of things online like meditations, yoga or other exercise classes. You can also go out for walks if you have not been told to self-Isolate, but keep at least 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people.
Some other ideas can be found here at - https://www.theroyal.ca/great-big-list-things-can-help-you-cope-while-practicing-physical-distancing-and-self-isolation

4. Stay in touch with family and friends.

Being in self-isolation or even practising physical distancing does not mean that you cannot stay connected. Reach out to your loved ones in other ways. Call or text your family and friends or stay in touch through social media or online chats. Maybe send a letter to people you don’t see often. Ask your friends and family how they are coping and talk about how you can get through this together. Digital tools like Skype, Google Hangout, and Facetime are a great way to have face-to-face conversations while maintaining physical distancing. 
It’s worth repeating - physical distancing does not have to mean emotional distancing!

5. Focus on the positive and what you can do.
Seek and share positive news stories (but don’t forget to take media breaks). Practice gratitude and find new ways to be creative. Ask your family and friends to recommend some fun, enjoyable, uplifting distractions and activities.

6. This is not a normal time and it is okay to not be okay. Ask for help if you need it.
It is very important to reach out to any support network you want to discuss how you are feeling – family, friends, colleagues – via phone, email, Facetime, Zoom, or text. More importantly, reach out to your physician if you are feeling unwell. Many physicians are providing virtual appointments, so this may be an option for you.
There is also financial assistance available from the Federal, Provincial, and Municipal governments.
If you or someone you know is having a hard time coping with the stress of this current situation, please reach out for help. 

If you need support please call the Distress Centre Ottawa and Region 24/7 - 613-238-3311 in English or Tel-Aide Outaouais - 613-741-6433 in French.

CounsellingConnect.org provides free access to a same-day or next-day phone or video counselling session. This service is for children, youth, adults and families in Ottawa and the surrounding area. There is no waiting list.

For more support and information visit OttawaPublicHealth.ca/COVIDMentalHealth.


You are not alone. We are all in this together!

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