Mental Health Awareness: Diving deeper into social connection

It’s time to check in on how we’re feeling and thinking; it’s no surprise that weeks of sheltering in place affects our mental health.

Some feel it more than others, and people are coping with COVID-19 and BC’s response in different ways. With such vast change, along with loss of services and stretches of boredom, it’s harder to remain calm and feel supported. Some people experience confusion, anger, fear and even hopelessness.

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Building skills to support good mental health is helpful for everyone, and if you’re doing well today, you can reach out and support someone who needs a hand.

A first step is to ensure you’re getting the right information; it’s smart to check sources and have the facts. If it’s based on fear, or there’s more coming at you than you feel good about, it’s time to step away and regroup.

Reliable pandemic information sources include: BC Centre for Disease Control (bccdc.ca), HealthLinkBC (healthlinkbc.ca), World Health Organization (who.int) and BC Ministry of Health (1.888.COVID-19 or text 604.630.0300).

Work on having calm conversations about COVID-19, especially when talking to children. This helps ease their fears and uncertainty. Provide age-appropriate information, and the chance to ask questions and share how they feel.

Build self-care into your day. The things you do to take care of yourself will help manage your stress. Play, cuddle, exercise, breathe deeply; what fills your cup?

Even before COVID-19, too many people were feeling disconnected from the community, and loneliness was taking a toll on their physical and mental health. Add the regulation to combat viral infection by “social distancing” and things can feel worse.

The good news is you don’t have to socially isolate, you have to physically distance. Maintaining some space, avoiding crowds and staying home when sick will continue to play a big role in community health. Socially connecting is actually more important than ever; we’re stronger in the community when no one is left behind. Connected communities respond better to crisis and disaster, and rebound better after.

#GetReal about how you really feel. Many of us say we’re fine when we don’t mean it; “fine” can keep us at arm’s length from real social connection with others. Take a chance to connect in a meaningful way: “Buddy up” with someone who can check on you and do errands, especially if you live alone.

Stay in close touch with your support network. The phone call may have gone out of fashion, but it’s time to bring it back. If you have video access, turn on that camera.

You know your body and its signs of stress; sometimes you really do need more help. Your doctor or nurse practitioner can discuss options with you, and may connect you to other supports. This can move you from poor self-management and declining mental health to having what you need to break cycles of negative thoughts and feelings. A knowledgeable perspective and company on the journey will help get your mental health back on track.

Contact your clinic to set up an initial appointment by phone or video. If you don’t have a care provider, go to divisionsbc.ca/powell-river. Our website also has mental health apps and other resources that are free and easy to use.

This is a strange and challenging time, but also a time for reflection, self-care and community building. We will get through this, together.

Powell River Division of Family Practice is a non-profit society and part of a province-wide initiative designed to strengthen primary health care in BC.

 
Copyright © Powell River Peak

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