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Mental Health and COVID-19

Living with COVID-19 can cause anxiety and worry in all of us. Whether you're concerned about the health of your loved ones or worried about what the future may hold, there are mental health supports available to help you through this difficult time.

Find Support In Your Area

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1. Your Mental Wellness: Tips on coping, developing healthy habits, managing stress, staying connected

Find ways to maintain or adjust healthy habits

If you are struggling with your mental health, go back to basics. Eat well balanced meals, get regular rest, and do basic exercises and stretching daily. Having daily small goals, flexible deadlines, and talking to others you trust, might help. There are mental health supports available if needed.

Stay socially connected to friends and family. If you are concerned about meeting in person there are virtual options available such as FaceTime, or even just pick up the phone.

Supports available in Saskatchewan

Healthy habits

The pandemic's disruption of life means it can be difficult to start new healthy habits or maintain those that you may have had before. There are lots of simple, everyday activities that, when done regularly, will improve your mental health.

  • Exercising is proven to make you feel better. Exercise at home or consider a walk or other activities outside, if weather permits.
  • Cook, or learn to cook, healthy meals at home.
  • Read a book or learn a new skill.
  • Do an activity that you enjoy that helps you relax, such as meditating.
  • Practice healthy sleep habits.
  • Spending time with people and pets in your household who make you feel better, or connecting over the phone or online with those outside your household.
  • Letting your feelings out by writing them down or talking with a friend or family member.
  • Seeking counselling if you continue to struggle with stress or anxiety. Some counselling services are available over the phone or online at this time.

Managing stress and anxiety

Despite an end to public health restrictions, living with COVID-19 can still cause stress and anxiety in some people. Stress and anxiety is a signal that we have to adapt and overcome challenges in order to protect others and ourselves.

Stress may involve caring for an elderly family member, worrying about your own health or the health of a loved one, boredom, financial concerns, feeling a lack of belonging or connection.

If the stress and anxiety of the pandemic is affecting your daily life, consider adopting healthy habits that are good for mental health. If you are still unable to cope or have underlying mental illness, reach out for help as soon as possible.

Supports available in Saskatchewan

Dealing with misinformation about COVID-19

There are many different sources of information about the pandemic, not all of which are credible. Social media makes it even more difficult to find accurate information.

Government agencies and other well-established organizations are staffed by professionals who are held to high standards to ensure that they are providing the best advice:

World Health Organization
Health Canada
Government of Saskatchewan
Saskatchewan Health Authority

Taking care of children

Children will naturally reflect the emotions felt by their caregivers and may not understand why they cannot do the things they normally do. They may not understand why they are not able to be with their peers and why their routines have changed. Here are some tips for supporting children:

  • Stay calm, especially in front of children, but be honest about what is going on.
  • Watch for any signs of stress, like difficulty sleeping or loss of appetite. Seek support if required.
  • Encourage children to express their feelings.
  • Involve children in healthy physical activities, such as going for a walk, or exercising.
  • Try to keep routines going, as much as possible.
  • Try stay-home activities such as family card games, board games, baking, shared reading activities, craft making, and watching TV/movies together.

The University of Regina's Child Trauma Research Centre has many youth-focused resources for mental health and substance use.

Going outside

Saskatchewan offers plenty of outdoor opportunities to get together with friends or do solitary activities that support mental health.

Check local community organizations like social media groups, municipal recreation pages or bulletin boards for recreation opportunities.

Knowing when to ask for help

It can often be difficult to know when it is appropriate to ask others for help. Many other people are likely feeling the same way you are and are waiting for someone to talk about what they are going through. It is important to lean on each other and be open to having conversations about our mental health.

If you do not feel comfortable asking a close friend or family member for help, there are professionals who will listen and provide you with tools to improve your mental health.

Supports available in Saskatchewan

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2. Alcohol, Cannabis and Other Drug Use: Safe ways to manage stress and anxiety

Dealing with the impacts of COVID-19 can cause increased stress and anxiety for many of us. In the short-term, drinking alcohol or using drugs might help you cope with these feelings, but it could also make things worse for your health and well-being.

If you are sick with COVID-19 or another illness that affects your lungs:

You may have a higher risk of overdose death while using depressant drugs ("downers") that slow breathing.

  • Depressant drugs that slow breathing include opioids (such as fentanyl, morphine, hydromorphone, heroin, oxycodone or methadone), gabapentin and benzodiazepines.
  • Using more than one drug, even in small amounts, can also increase the risk of an overdose.
  • Alcohol is also a depressant and can contribute to an overdose if mixed with drugs.

Smoking tobacco, cannabis or other drugs can make your illness worse if you are infected with COVID-19 or have another illness that affects your lungs.

Keeping Track of Changing Habits

It can be easy to lose count of how often we are drinking or using drugs when our usual routines and schedules have changed. Try keeping a list or diary of the date, how much you drank or used and how you felt afterwards. There are a number of apps that can help you track your habits, or you can keep track on paper. Avoid stocking up on alcohol or drugs – the more you have in your house, the more likely you are to use it.

Assess your alcohol or drug use

Not Ready for Change?

Knowing Your Limits with Alcohol: A Practical Guide to Assessing Your Drinking (CCSA)

Staying Safe

Follow these tips to reduce negative impacts on your health and well-being:

  • Don't share glasses, bottles, cans, joints, vapes, pipes, bongs or other items and clean them thoroughly. COVID-19 and other diseases could be spread by sharing items.
  • Use the buddy system. You can do this in person, or over the phone, texting or chatting online.
  • Avoid alcohol or drug binges.
  • Be extra cautious when trying a new alcohol or drug, or getting a drug from a new source. Street drugs, even those packaged like prescription drugs, can be contaminated with other substances like fentanyl. Start with a small amount and go slow.
  • Reduce your health risks by drinking no more than:
    • 10 drinks a week for women, with no more than 2 drinks a day most days;
    • 15 drinks a week for men, with no more than 3 drinks a day most days.

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

COVID-19 Harm Reduction Tips for People Who Use Drugs

Responding to an Overdose During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Preventing Opioid Overdoses - Take Home Naloxone

Parenting, Drinking and Drug Use

During the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth may see the adults they live with drinking or using drugs. They may also be drinking or using drugs more often.

How a parent uses alcohol or drugs can influence their children's decisions about alcohol or drug use. Help children and young people learn healthier habits by modeling responsible behaviour and talking to them about drinking and drug use. Store any alcohol, recreational drugs or prescription drugs in your home where children and youth cannot access them.

To reduce health risks, young people should delay drinking until they reach the legal age. If youth choose to drink, they should do so with parental guidance.

Canada's Low-Risk Alcohol Drinking Guidelines

Talk to Your Children

Teen Recovery: What to do if alcohol or drugs are causing problems in your teen's life

Alcohol and Drug Use in Young People

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3. Supports Available in Saskatchewan: Mental health community resources

Find Support

  • HealthLine 811 – Mental health and addictions service continues to be available, providing 24/7 crisis support, advice to help manage a caller's situation, information and connection to community resources.
  • Wellness Together Canada – Connects people to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls, and also offers credible information and help to address mental health and substance use issues.
  • Employee and Family Assistance Plans – your employer or workplace might have a plan that you can access for short-term in person, phone, or virtual counselling services.
  • Mobile Crisis Centres are located across Saskatchewan and operate 24/7.
    • (Central Saskatchewan) West Central Crisis and Family Support Centre – Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to noon, 1 to 5 p.m. (After Hours: 306-933-6200)
      306-463-6655
    • (North Saskatchewan) Piwapan Women's Centre – Crisis Line – 24/7 Hours
      306-425-4090
    • Prince Albert Mobile Crisis Unit – Monday to Friday, 4 p.m. to 8 a.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 24 hours
      306-764-1011
    • Regina Mobile Crisis Services – Mobile Crisis Hotline – 24/7 Hours
      306-757-0127
    • Saskatoon Mobile Crisis – 24/7 Hours
      306-933-6200
    • South West Saskatchewan) Southwest Crisis Services – 24/7 Hours
      1-800-567-3334
  • Kids Help Phone – Offers professional counselling, information and referrals. Phone (1-800-668-6868), text (686868) or chat online. It's confidential, free and available 24/7.
  • Farm Stress Line – Provides support for farmers and ranchers and is available 24 hours per day, seven days per week. To get help, call 1-800-667-4442.
  • TAO Tel-Aide Francophone Helpline in Saskatchewan – Provides free, 24/7 mental health services to French speakers. To get help, call 1-800-567-9699.
  • Breaking Free Online – This evidence-based resource for substance use recovery and support is available online as well as a companion app.
  • National Overdose Response Service – 1-888-688-NORS (6677)
    This toll-free, 24-hour hotline aims to prevent deadly overdoses by connecting people who are alone and using drugs with peer volunteers who can call for help if it's needed.
  • Hope for Wellness – The Hope for Wellness Line has experienced counsellors to talk or help you find supports near you. This line is for Indigenous people, and counselling is also available in Cree, Ojibway or Inuktitut.
  • National Suicide Prevention Line – 1-833-456-4566
  • Other provincial crisis supports in Saskatchewan
  • Online Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (Online-CBT) - Provincially funded service for Saskatchewan residents who are experiencing mental health difficulties, including depression and anxiety.  Trained therapists support participants as they complete five online modules over an eight week period.  This service is led by the Online Therapy Unit at the University of Regina, and is delivered for free for Saskatchewan residents in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
  • Be SaskWell – A text-based mental health and wellness service for COVID-19 created by University of Saskatchewan researchers. Sign up by text: Text JOIN to 759355

Family Service Saskatchewan, in partnership with the Saskatchewan Health Authority, supports free mental health walk-in clinics. These clinics offer free one-time counselling sessions which are now available by phone.

Walk-in mental health counselling services are available in:

The Canadian Mental Health Association, Saskatchewan Division has set up phone lines to support those who may be struggling in these changing times:

  • Provincial Line: 306-421-1871
  • Provincial Youth Line: 306-730-5900
  • Moose Jaw: 306-630-5968
  • North Battleford: 306-441-5746
  • Prince Albert: 306-940-7678
  • Regina: 306-535-4292
  • Rosetown: 306-831-4083
  • Saskatoon: 306-270-3648
  • Swift Current: 306-741-5148
  • Weyburn: 306-861-4951

Support information for businesses and workers is available.

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