Mental health is more widely addressed in this decade than it has ever been before. People ask questions concerning mental health, general well-being and substance use. It is important that they receive accurate answers from reliable sources.

In most scenarios, we receive questions from our website, and we answer questions directly on the website or via email. We have experts in resource and information who also share helpful resources, post answers and give information about our services and programs regularly.

It is vital that people in need of help find it before it is too late. We are a great place to begin. Our answers provide you with help for yourself, for a friend or for a loved one who is suffering from a mental health disease or battling with a substance abuse disorder.

Are you unsure about what to ask? Here is a list of questions others have asked recently:

Mental Health During COVID-19

How do I get over grief?

While a lot of people think of grief in terms of losing a person or pet, grief can come up whenever you lose something important. This includes:

  • Losing security, like losing your job or wondering how long you’ll be able to pay rent
  • Losing stability or routine, like finding yourself working from home or navigating childcare closures
  • Losing your sense of safety, like fearing you or someone you love might end up with COVID-19
  • Losing your social relationships, like missing time with family and friends now that everyone must practice physical distancing or self-isolation
  • Losing hope for the future, like feeling that life will never go back to normal
  • Losing important goals, like finding your classes, sports competitions, or performances are cancelled for the foreseeable future
  • Losing important milestone celebrations like graduation ceremonies and weddings

Grief bring up complicated feelings. You might feel sad, angry, frustrated, fearful, or hopeless. You may have a hard time eating or sleeping, or feel very tense. You may feel overwhelmed and tired. You may wonder if life will ever feel normal again.

Everyone grieves in their own way and their own time. Here are some strategies to try as you navigate your own journey.

Acknowledge and express your feelings in a healthy way. Give your feelings a name and find healthy ways to express them, such as by talking with a friend, writing in a journal, or making art.

Give yourself as much time as you need. Grief follows its own schedule. Give yourself permission to use this time to take care of your well-being. Let go of expectations, tasks, or other obligations that can wait.

Seek support. Grief can feel very isolating, even though a lot of people are experiencing some sort of loss right now. Reach out to friends or family and share your feelings. Look for ways to help and support each other.

Take care of yourself. Ignoring health and well-being can make difficult experiences feel worse. Eat as well as you can, try to get enough sleep, spend time outside if it’s safe for you to do so, and exercise regularly. Think about self-care activities or strategies that have helped you cope with challenging situations in the past and make time for those activities.

Know that feelings of grief will pass. Grief may feel intense at times, but those feelings will become more manageable over time and will eventually pass.

Connect with a mental health professional if you’re having a hard time. If you’re having a hard time getting through the day, coping in unhealthy ways, or having a hard time managing difficult thoughts or feelings, it’s a good idea to seek help from a professional like a psychologist or counsellor—many now offer online or phone appointments. T

How do I see this in a better perspective?

How you think about something impacts your feelings and your behaviours.

When we feel stressed out, angry, or fearful, it’s hard to look at the situation realistically and see all of the options we have. (Remember: we all control our own actions and reactions, no matter what’s going on in the world. We can call do something about this pandemic.)

People often overestimate the negative parts—their own feelings, their own abilities to manage a difficult situation, or the situation itself—and underestimate positive parts—their own abilities to care for themselves and loved ones, their support networks, and opportunities.

How does the thought “We’re never going to make it through this!” make you feel? It likely doesn’t feel good—and it isn’t even true.

Challenging negative, unhelpful thoughts can improve your mood, validate your ability to get through this, and help you see new options or opportunities to stay well.

Stop and notice thoughts that come up. How do they make you feel? Do your thoughts seem realistic if you look at the situation more objectively? How can you reframe the thought to make it more productive or hopeful? Can you find any positive aspects or think of new ways to approach the situation?

How do I distract myself from my anxious feelings?

Distraction is a very valid tool to help you cope when everything feels overwhelming or when you feel lonely or isolated.

If you don’t have a lot of energy or focus right now, try low-effort distractions like watching TV, browsing Youtube, listening to a podcast or audiobook, playing a game on your phone, reading an easy book or magazine, or working on a simple art project.

If you have more energy and focus, give yourself a to-do list every day: you can clean and take care of projects around your home, work on hobbies, connect with family or friends, read a new book and catch up on your favourite TV shows. You can find interesting opportunities to take online courses from universities all over the world through MOOCs and other online learning platforms, you can learn a new language online or through apps, and you can learn new hobbies and activities. As more people have to practice social distancing or self-isolation, people are finding creative ways to bring the world into their homes: you can tour museums and art galleries, Skype with a scientist, watch animals at zoos and nature preserves, and more.

When normal schedules are disrupted, it’s easy to fall into unhelpful habits. Look for ways to keep yourself on track with healthier habits. You could set yourself goals every day or turn activities into a fun competition with friends or family—whoever takes the most language classes wins!

How do I overcome thinking traps?

What you tell yourself about a situation affects how you feel and what you do. Sometimes your interpretation of a situation can get distorted and you only focus on the negative aspects—this is normal and expected. However, when you interpret situations too negatively, you might feel worse. You’re also more likely to respond to the situation in ways that are unhelpful in the long term.

These automatic thoughts and assumptions are sometimes called thinking traps. Everyone falls into unbalanced thinking traps from time to time. You’re most likely to distort your interpretation of things when you already feel sad, angry, anxious, depressed or stressed. You’re also more vulnerable to thinking traps when you’re not taking good care of yourself, like when you’re not eating or sleeping well.

What should I do when I am lonely?

A lot of people are alone right now, but we don’t have to be lonely. We’re all in this together.

While you may be physically separated from friends, family members, and other loved ones, it has never been more important to maintain those social connections. Social connections are an opportunity to seek and share support, talk through difficult feelings, share a laugh, keep up-to-date with loved ones, and help each other cope. This pandemic is a lot for one person to deal with on their own. While measures like physical distancing and self-isolation are necessary to slow the spread of the virus, the physical separation can amplify a lot of challenging emotions like loneliness and fear.

Think about the different ways to connect that are most meaningful for you. For example, you might prefer a video chat over a phone call, or you might prefer to text throughout the day rather than one set time for a video call. Then, work with your social networks to make a plan. You might video chat with your close friends in the evening and phone a family member once a week.

Remember to be mindful of people who may not be online. Check in by phone and ask how you can help.

Finding Help

+ Where can I get a counsellor, psychiatrist, psychologist or doctor’s help for my mental illness?

To find a family doctor (general physician), visit the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC to use their Find a Physician tool. You can also see a family doctor at a local walk-in clinic, though it’s helpful to find a regular doctor if you have ongoing care needs. You can also find a psychiatrist through the College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC. Be aware that you almost always need a doctor’s referral to see a psychiatrist.

You can find a registered psychologist through the BC Psychological Association and the College of Psychologists of BC.

To find a clinical counsellor, visit the BC Association of Clinical Counsellors.

For more on the differences between these service providers, see the article The Right Path for You: Finding your way to and through services in BC from the Finding the Right Help – Navigating the System issue of Visions Journal.

+ Where do I find a group for support?

Contact us today with your questions, for further information about our resources, or if you are interested in volunteering with our specialists for referrals and information distribution.