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Free, online mental health support for kids and adults, available from the comfort of home

As many classes and educational efforts are moving online as a result of the COVID-19 related isolation, online mental health support is available to Ontario residents — both young and older — who may be feeling the impact of the current coronavirus threat and its health and economic impacts.

People can find tips for anxiety, to help with sleep disruptions, social isolation and more, says Angèle D’Alessio, mental health promoter with the Canadian Mental Health Association.

These serves have been available online for some time now, but D’Alessio says she is contacting media in the Eastern Ontario Health Unit area to ensure that everyone knows about the online resources available to people, during this time of uncertainty and in light of the increased isolation.

Kids may be feeling stress, too, she points out.

“I work primarily in the schools so I always consider what our kids are going through. There may be stress around the information they are getting or not getting,” d’Alessio says.

Kids Have Stress Too is geared for kids, who can call or text. Here is the link.

There is also the Kids Help Phone: www.kidshelpphone.ca which offers 24/7 counseling by phone, text or live chat.

D’Alessio says that a minimum of 2,000 phone and texts a day are expected in the next week.

She shared information and resources for the the 15+ age group to manage stress, anxiety and low mood.

There are no wait times for BOUNCEBACK, which she recommends as a good resource if you are feeling low, stressed or anxious. www.bouncebackontario.ca

You don’t need a doctor’s referral, notes D’Alessio, although you will be asked to identify your family physician, as he/she will be kept informed of your wellbeing. Available in 16 languages, Bounceback is a free skill-building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It is designed to help adults and youth (15 years and over) to manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. It is delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, and you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness, she says.

And there’s more. Big White Wall- www.bigwhitewall.ca is another 24/7 service moderated by trained practitioners who keep members safe, and facilitate the process of people helping people in an online format. Clinically managed and designed to support those with mild to moderate need. This is a peer-to-peer support resource and it’s free for Ontario residents.

Amid public concerns of the developing COVID-19 pandemic, Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) experts are reminding individuals with exacerbated anxiety and depression symptoms of how to manage their mental wellness at this time of uncertainty.
CMHA York and South Simcoe’s CEO Rebecca Shields and clinical director Dr. Deanne Simms offer these five basic tips to help individuals experiencing heightened mental health concerns to remain calm and balanced as this public health situation unfolds.

• Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.

• Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.

• Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.

• Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.

• If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as CMHA.
CMHA Ontario and branches around the province provide programs and services to support your mental wellness, such as BounceBack, walk-in counselling, information on stress management, and much more. Learn more and find a local branch at ontario.cmha.ca.

People can also visit www.cmha-east.on.ca to stay up to date on services and find up-to-date information on COVID-19, or can visit Facebook -CMHAEAST

Louise Sproule

Louise Sproule has been the publisher of The Review since 1992. A part-time job after high school at The Review got Sproule hooked on community newspapers and all that they represent. She loves to write, has covered every kind of event you can think of, loves to organize community events and loves her small town and taking photographs across the region. She dreams of writing a book one day so she can finally tell all of the town's secrets! She must be stopped! Keep subscribing to The Review . . . or else!

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