Mental health support available during COVID-19 pandemic

MEDICINE HAT, AB -The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) provides support year-round on a national level, including in Medicine Hat.

And with the uncertain time of COVID-19, the CMHA encourages people to check out their resources in case you need a listening ear or someone to talk to.

The executive director of the Canadian Mental Health Association in southeast Alberta Cori Fischer says the worst thing we can do at this point is to stay in our homes and cut ourselves off from everyone.

Her biggest concern is also everyone’s mental health, not just their clients.

Fischer says we are feeling some big emotions right now of anxiety, the unknown, and a lack of control in our lives.

And we need to be able to talk to someone about the impact this situation is having on us.

She says we need to physically isolate but we don’t need to socially isolate.

“One of my biggest fears is that if we don’t have that connection, as people’s mental health goes down, we’re going to see an increase in suicide, suicide attempts. We’re going to see increases in addictions, people using alcohol or drugs to cope with things. And that’s going to create a whole other crisis when we come out the other end of this COVID if we’re not addressing those things now.”

Fischer says she knows with the individuals they’re working with, that they are communicating more thoughts of suicide and coping that are not the best choices like drinking or using drugs.

She adds, CMHA is still offering support groups but doing so remotely.

And Alberta Health Services is still offering addictions, mental health support, and counselling services.

The Southeast CMHA started a website with a list of resources for everyone including single parents, kids, and people who live alone.

The website has resources like tips to take care of ourselves, activities we can do with our kids, along with information on stress and anxiety.

And if you’re living alone or don’t have someone in your circle to talk to, helpline phone numbers are also listed.

“1-800 numbers that individuals can phone at 2 a.m. and 3 a.m. if you can’t sleep, phone someone. These people are already awake, this is what they’re supposed to do. That’s one of the things I struggle with, I don’t want to wake my friend up at 3 o’clock in the morning, but these people are already awake and this is what they do so I can phone them.”

Fischer says the free Alberta 211 phone line is also available if you need someone to talk to 24 hours a day.

And 211 staff can connect you with local resources by dialing 211.

She adds we need to get creative when connecting with friends and family.

“FaceTime dinners, virtual chats. I’ve seen some positives come of this as well like FaceTime with family across the country that you had a long time between visits.”

For mental health support and more information visit www.cmhawellness.wordpress.com

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