Mental Health and COVID-19
According to Statistics Canada, 48% of Canadians reported having excellent mental health in May 2020, versus 54% in March 2020.
Many of us are focusing on our physical health during the pandemic. Although this is undoubtedly important, we must not forget to also make our mental health a priority.
Mental health is cognitive, behavioural and emotional well-being; it is about how humans think, feel and behave. It can affect a person's daily life, relationships, and even physical health.
According to the World Health Organization, "Mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community."
How is our mental health affected during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Everyone is different, and therefore everyone responds to stress differently. The emotional impact of an urgent situation depends on a person's characteristics and experiences, their social and economic circumstances, and their access to resources.
It is understandable that we want to stay as well-informed as possible, but immersing ourselves in a constant flow of negative news can lead to anxiety and stress. This can have a negative impact on our mental health.
According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health based in Toronto, Ontario, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on Canadians. In fact, the results of their online surveys showed that 19.20% of Canadians experienced moderate to severe anxiety, 27.20% engaged in binge drinking, 23.00% felt lonely, and 18.70% felt depressed.
Reasons for anxiety in Canadians and percentage of people affected
Factors that cause anxiety among Canadians include:
Employment and physical distancing
Chances of exposure at work
(Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)
What can we do to maintain or develop better mental health during and after the COVID-19 pandemic?
Below are some tips on how to deal with anxiety and stress:
Know the steps that you need to take if you get a positive COVID-19 test result. Contact your family doctor to determine the proper steps to take before treating yourself.
Know where and how to get treatment, support, and resources such as therapy, whether that be in person or through an online video call.
Take care of your emotional health. Emotional health is defined as the ability to accept and manage feelings through challenges and changes, and allowing one’s emotions to be easy to understand. People who are emotionally healthy are able to think clearly and react to an urgent situation with little anxiety or stress.
Take breaks from the internet and social media. Although it is good to stay updated and informed, constantly reading and watching news regarding the pandemic could increase stress. It is a good idea to give yourself breaks from the news by spending time with family and doing the activities you enjoy!
Physically take care of your body. This can be done by meditating, stretching, taking deep breaths, eating healthy, drinking a good amount of water, getting at least 8 hours of sleep, exercising, etc.
Remember to keep doing the activities you love, and do them often to relieve stress.
Stay connected with loved ones as well as your community. Spending time with family and friends, and helping others within your can be extremely beneficial to your mental health.
In case of an emergency or crisis, call:
Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: Call 1-800-273-8255
National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233 or text LOVEIS to 22522
The Eldercare Locator: Call 1-800-677-1116
Although feeling anxious can have a beneficial and adaptive purpose, it can also become the cause of immense suffering. Being unsure of the future is worrisome, but there will always be ways to improve how you’re feeling and enhance your mental health.
Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event - Taking Care of Your Emotional Health. (n.d.).
Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://emergency.cdc.gov/index.asp
COVID-19 National Survey Dashboard. (n.d.). Retrieved August 05, 2020, from https://www.cam
Mental health of Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic. (2020, June 4). Retrieved
August 06, 2020, from https://www150.statcan.gc.ca/n1/pub/11-627-m/11-627-
Pandemics can be stressful. (2020, July 1). Retrieved August 06, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/
What Is Mental Health? (2020, May 28). Retrieved August 5, 2020, from https://www.mentalheal
Article Contributors: Celine Guirguis, Victoria Huang