You can be the most optimistic, well rounded, healthiest person in Alberta – and still need mental health support. Life isn’t easy. It comes with loss, grief, stress and the very complex disease of depression that can strike anyone, anytime. When you factor in something as major as the current global pandemic, it’s easy to see how these unprecedented times are taking a major toll on our mental health. Just months ago, we could visit and hug our extended family. Today, breathing on them could make them sick. We’ve got job loss, scrambling for child care, fear of catching COVID, batting for your life if you do catch COVID, fear of germs, and all the while people who don’t want to wear a mask making a lot of noise in the background.
If you are among the many struggling with anxiety, stress and depression during this pandemic, do not be afraid to get help. Mental health struggles are real and affect people of all genders and ages. Professionals are standing by to offer support, and there is access to support for everyone.
Alberta mental health
Alberta Health Services (AHS) provides a variety of free supports, including Text4Hope and the Mental Health Hotline. AHS has several self-help resources as well, including brochures where you can read about practical pandemic preparedness, coping strategies, talking to children about COVID-19, and more. Perhaps your borderline addiction has spun out of control due to pandemic stress. AHS has an addiction helpline along with a confidential hotline to help you find local community support. Sadly, domestic abuse is on the rise due to stress and job loss. If you need immediately help, dial 911, and see AHS’s family violence support page. Through call lines, readable material, referral and emergency services, AHS is a great place to find a variety of supports.
Employee assistance program
Do you have group benefits through work? If so, you may have access to the employee assistance program (EAP). Available as part of some group plan benefits, EAP provides short-term phone counselling for stress, crisis, mental health, and addiction. This is a confidential, bilingual (French and English) service and each counsellor has a minimum of a Master’s degree in counselling, social work, or psychology. To access EAP, take a look at your group plan benefits booklet. It will list the number to call.
Private counsellors are available for a fee. Group or individual benefits may have coverage for private therapy sessions. When choosing a counsellor, check their credentials, references, and testimonials. Ensure you are speaking with a licensed professional.
Friends and family
Positive relationships with friends and family are based on tactful honesty, supportive conversations, and uplifting interactions. While you cannot expect your friends and family to be there 24/7, as everyone has their own lives to sustain during this pandemic, keeping in touch by phone, email, and text is a good way to help you – and them – maintain normalcy when you must stay physically apart. Hearing the voice of a loved one and giving and receiving messages of support really help your mental wellbeing. However, if your friend/family member is toxic or unable to support you emotionally due to their own mental state, do not take it personally. It is OK to distance from those who tax your reserves while you are building up your own wellbeing.
Never hesitate to reach out
This pandemic affects us all in one way or another. Even if you have maintained your job and are in good physical health, the toll of distancing, the scary news stories, the angry protestors – it wears on the strongest of us! When in need of help, reach out to the resources available. People are standing by who are ready and wanting to help you. You are not alone.