Last week, the Government of Ontario released projections around the spread and transmission of COVID-19 that painted a stark picture for the residents of the province.
A few days earlier, the White House released the result of its own modelling on the spread and mortality rate of the novel coronavirus. Even in the in the best-case scenario, the U.S. numbers were staggering.
While transparency is needed to provide context to the extraordinary public health measures taken around the world, it is also important to recognize that publicizing such scenarios is likely to cause heightened fear and anxiety for many.
The question becomes: what can we do about it?
First, its important to remember that we are all reacting to an extraordinarily abnormal situation, and while our responses and experiences will be different, we know that they will be heightened. If you find yourself struggling today, or any day, don’t hesitate to reach out to a colleague, friend or health professional.
At this moment in time, we have perhaps never had more in common. So please remember, physical distancing doesn’t mean social isolation.
The Federal Government has invested new money in crisis lines – a crucial means to support all of us during these challenging times. We’re also seeing the rapid adoption of e-mental health technologies, which we know can be just as effective as face-to-face alternatives.
Right now, I encourage you to take a page out of our Working Mind Training, and allow yourself to process new and upsetting information in small, digestible pieces. There is nothing wrong with taking a one-day-at-a-time approach to managing the mental health challenges associated with COVID-19.
And there should be no expectation that you’ll be coping with this global health emergency while acquiring a new skill or rediscovering a hobby. Leave your guilt at the door.
To those in essential services right now, from front line health providers, to grocery store and gas station clerks, you have my deepest gratitude and my utmost respect.
My advice to my own staff, who are struggling with the realities of remote work and child-rearing, who are caring for elderly or disabled loved ones, or who are managing an existing mental health concern, is to pause, when you can, to find the bright spots.
We are, very much, in this together. And if we prioritize our mental health with the same diligence we wash our hands, we may emerge on the other side better equipped to cope with life’s daily challenges than we’ve ever been.
President and CEO, Mental Health Commission of Canada
Mental Health Commission of Canada
613-683-3748 / firstname.lastname@example.org