Novel Coronavirus COVID-19
 

Care for Your Mental Health


NEW Last updated: November 18, 2020


The COVID-19 pandemic brings a high level of stress and anxiety as it rapidly changes the way we work, socialize and live.

Caring for your mental health is important in these times. If you need help or know someone who does, you are not alone.

Ask for help

Health and well-being must be supported by a network of people who can share your experiences with you. Don’t try and manage by yourself. Talk to family and friends and use the resources in your community:

  • health care providers
  • spiritual care providers and advisors
  • professional counsellors


Need Help Now? Contact a Crisis Line.



Services Available for Manitobans


NEW: Two-session virtual counselling by calling 1-844-218-2955

Starting October 13, every Manitoba resident age 16 or older have access to up to two free counselling sessions with a trained professional at Morneau Shepell.

To book your first session, call toll free 1-844-218-2955. Counselling sessions can be by video or telephone, as preferred. Sessions are offered in multiple languages until December 31.


Sign up now for AbilitiCBT: free and confidential online mental health virtual therapy

AbilitiCBT by Morneau Shepell is a free online virtual therapy program available to Manitobans age 16 and older experiencing mild to moderate symptoms of anxiety and depression due to the pandemic. It’s confidential and accessible from home on your computer, smartphone or tablet. So far,  over 4,000 Manitobans have signed up for the service in the last 6 months.


Local mental health and addiction organizations have adapted the way they are offering service to better accommodate Manitobans during the pandemic.

Addictions Foundation of Manitoba has developed a series of helpful webinars for dealing with substance use and addiction during the pandemic.

Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support provides free online resources, and connects you to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other trained professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, in both official languages. Resources include modules for addressing low mood, worry, substance use, social isolation and relationship issues.



Naturally there are many different feelings and responses, both positive and negative, when coping with the pandemic, including:

  • panic, anxiety, worry, fear
  • anger, disbelief
  • helplessness, despair
  • sleeplessness
  • lack of concentration
  • exhaustion
  • loneliness
  • co-operation, teamwork
  • generosity towards others
  • inspiration
  • strength in connecting with others/community

Know yourself 

Learn the common signs of stress and think about how you usually deal with it.

Signs can range from headaches, muscle tension, sleeplessness and trouble concentrating, to irritability, anger, anxiety and sadness. Think about the resources available to you to help manage your stress, including:

  • family, friends, connection with others
  • spirituality, faith
  • awareness of own values
  • sense of purpose
  • exercise, leisure, creative activities
  • ability to help others
  • initiative to plan and prepare for future events/changes
  • acknowledgement of good feelings, not just negative ones
  • awareness of the world around you

Care for your body and mind

When you’re feeling stressed, take regular breaks and relax. Use relaxation techniques that help you slow down, stay calm and de-stress.

An important stress indicator is shallow, fast breathing. Take slow, deep breaths (from your stomach) and focus on calming your breaths.

  • Go for walks, stretch your muscles. Any kind of exercise is good.
  • Eat healthy food and eat regularly. Good nutrition is key to managing stress.
  • Keep to a regular sleep routine.
  • Take regular breaks from electronic devices.
  • Try to focus on the positive and show compassion for yourself and others.

Check in with yourself regularly

  • Self-awareness is important and you can monitor your moods and attitudes at different times of the day.
  • Make a point to stop and check in with yourself, often, and make sure you are doing things that support a healthy body, mind and spirit.

Social (physical) distancing

When you are asked to social (physical) distance to protect your health, those around you and your community:

  • Try to set up a routine with as many familiar activities as possible.
  • Plan to do some basic school work with children for part of the day.
  • Understand and reassure yourself and family members that the disruption is only temporary.
  • Talk to others who are having the same experience.
  • Avoid alcohol and drug misuse.

Stay informed

  • Keep on top of current news but don’t spend the whole day tuned into media broadcasts.
  • Try and keep as close to your normal daily routines as possible and only check the news occasionally. (no more than once a day is best for most people). 
  • Obtain your health information from reliable sources only (e.g., Health Canada).
  • www.gov.mb.ca/covid19/updates/index.html

There are many healthy ways to help youth cope with stress. Have them:

  • Talk to people they trust about their feelings - email, text, phone, video-chat. This could be a friend, parent, Elder, teacher, counsellor or a phone line support person.
  • Visit the Kids Help Phone at www.kidshelpphone.ca, for information and resources directed to youth.
  • Have fun! Do things they enjoy. Remember physical activity/exercise can lower stress and make them feel happier and energized.
  • Find ways to relax. Take a walk, read, listen to music, watch a movie, have a nap, pray, smudge, do yoga or do deep breathing. For more relaxation tips, go to: www.stresshacks.ca.
  • Ask friends what helps them feel better and cope with the stress.
  • Tell a story about how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected them: draw, write, sing, dance, journal, take photos.
  • Think about times in the past when things were difficult for you, and what helped you get through the hard times then.
  • Help support others. When feeling stressed, helping to support others takes you outside your own troubles for awhile.
  • Find a way to remember both the good and the bad things during the pandemic (ex: shoot a video, write, take pictures).


Video: Kids & COVID-19 - A Question and Answer Session
Lanette Siragusa, provincial lead, health system integration, quality, and chief nursing officer, Shared Health
Dr. William Li, pediatrician
Ace Burpee, host


Supporting Seniors

While many Manitoba seniors are active and self-sufficient, there are some who will need extra support during a pandemic, particularly if they live alone. Everyone, including seniors, will react differently to the stress of dealing with a pandemic. It’s natural for people to:

  • feel overwhelmed and unable to focus on daily tasks
  • get preoccupied with a particular problem (e.g., groceries, medications, health)
  • feel helpless or hopeless
  • get preoccupied with the past and previous events they remember

Signs of anxiety or stress in seniors, including:

  • withdrawal
  • intense worry and panic symptoms
  • denial of the situation, refusing help or personal contact
  • unkempt appearance, taking unhealthy risks, not taking medication
  • change in eating habits, appetite, sleep patterns
  • talk of being a burden, depression, hopelessness

How to help seniors, older relatives, friends and neighbours

  • Check in with them regularly by phone, video chat, text for social interaction and to make sure they have everything they need.
  • Actively include them in planning discussions.
  • Take time to listen and let them talk out their anxiety and concerns.
  • Call frequently to remind them they’re important in your life.
  • If an in-person visit is required, ensure you are not sick and have not travelled, and wash your hands and practice social distancing.
  • Help them with tasks that may be difficult (ex: getting to or rebooking appointments, picking up medication or arranging for delivery of groceries and medications, cleaning, cooking).
  • Access medical care or advice if there are significant changes in an older adult's overall health and well-being.
  • Help them connect by phone, video chat or text with community or faith groups that work with and help seniors, if it seems appropriate.
  • Support and encourage them to stay connected to the community in general through phone, television or the Internet, when possible.
  • A & O Support Services for Old Adults - www.aosupportservices.ca/resources/covid-19-response-programs/