Feelings of loneliness and isolation have been increasing before COVID-19, but the pandemic has taken a toll on people's mental health. (Pixabay)

Create meaningful connections as pandemic continues: CMHA Kelowna

'We have to recognize we're in a crisis and we need to give ourselves the grace and the time in order to manage it'

  • May. 4, 2020 12:00 a.m.

Now more than ever, we have to try and create meaningful connections where we can be honest about our mental well-being.

That’s according to the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) Kelowna branch, which claims finding and making those connections may be difficult during this time of isolation.

There are, however, online resources to help people along.

“We pivoted very quickly to provide a number of resources online. We’re providing some courses through our Discovery College program which is 100 per cent free and is open to anyone and everyone,” said CMHA Kelowna’s communications manager Jessica Samuels.

“We have a series called ‘Coping with Current Events’. We’ve had some sessions on managing stress for caregivers, individuals, as well as sessions on identifying unhealthy coping strategies.”

Samuels added CMHA Kelowna wellness coaches have also been busy connecting with residents through phone calls and making sure people have the help they need to cope with the stress and anxiety of the pandemic.

She said people can support their mental well-being by not doing anything in excess, including eating, consuming too much alcohol, or sleeping too much.

“Those have always been the foundation for good mental health, and those are really going to support you now. Some things that people may find helpful is making sure how much the pandemic is in our every day lives, in our social media feeds and our conversations. Monitor that,” she said.

“Of course, we want to be informed but we can be overwhelmed with that… be purposeful in re-focusing yourself on some positivity.”

Samuels added people need to stop feeling like they should be doing things during this time.

“Let’s stop the ‘should’. ‘I should be baking bread. I should be organizing the cupboards. I should get up and have a fitness routine every day’. We have to recognize we’re in a crisis and we need to give ourselves the grace and the time in order to manage it,” she said.

CMHA Kelowna is also launching a campaign called #CreatingConnection, with the goal of fostering a community of support where people can talk about their mental health.

“Social connection is an important factor for our mental health and so we encourage people to find ways to connect with others despite being physically apart,” Samuels said.

“That’s why we’re hoping the community joins us in the #CreatingConnections campaign. We can work together to find creative ways to stay connected and collectively, it will benefit the community and our mental health.”

For more information on mental health resources, visit CMHA’s site.

Samuels said if you are in mental health crisis, contact a medical professional, call a crisis line, or go to the emergency room.

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Twila Amato

Video journalist, Black Press Okanagan

Email me at twila.amato@blackpress.ca

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