Maintaining your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic
Posted: Mar 20, 2020 12:00 AM
| Updated: Mar 24, 2020 10:08 PM
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NAIT staff and students have access to free and confidential counselling by trained professionals. These services are available 24/7 and can be accessed in crisis situations or be used to improve self-care, mental health and overall well-being.
NAIT’s Counselling Centre is available to support current students who are experiencing barriers to their success. Many students may also need support to cope with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Professional counsellors can assist in several areas including anxiety, depression, stress, relationships, sexual orientation, gender identity, grief and loss and academic support.
If you need support, please reach out.
To make an appointment with a NAIT counsellor
If you are experiencing a crisis
Please reach out immediately for support
- Adult Mental Health Crisis Response Team at 780.342.7777, where trained professionals are available to help you 24/7
- The Distress Line at 780.482.HELP (4357); outside the greater Edmonton region, call the Rural Distress Line at 1.800.232.7288
There are several other student services and resources that can offer support to enhance your mental health, self-care and overall NAIT experience.
NAIT's Employee and Family Assistance Program (EFAP) is a confidential counselling and referral service available to all staff and their family members 24/7. Support is available in the areas of clinical counselling, work/life/health issues, professional advice (including legal and financial) and specialized counselling for traumatic stress.
Our EFAP provider, Morneau Shepell, is also ready and able to support staff and their families as they deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.
To gain immediate access to the Employee and Family Assistance program
Students and staff have access to chaplains who can provide one-on-one consultation on spiritual matters. Chaplains represent several communities of faith and are available to all students and staff, regardless of religious denomination. To arrange a meeting, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mental Health Supports
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed in a time of crisis. We are being bombarded with an enormous amount of information, and it can be challenging to make sense of what it all means to ourselves and to our loved ones and families.
There are, however, healthy and effective ways to cope. Here are a few to help during these difficult times.
Coping strategies and resources
Recently, the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released lists of ways to address your stress, including:
- Share your feelings – talk to family, friends, and colleagues who you trust
- If you must stay home – maintain healthy routines regarding diet, sleep, exercise and stay in touch with others
- Try to relax – pause for deep breathing, stretching or meditation
- Do things you enjoy – make time for pleasant activities each day
- Avoid turning to smoking, alcohol or drugs as ways to deal with your emotions
- Get the facts – stay up-to-date by identifying a reliable, accurate source of information; informing yourself about the actual risk may improve your outlook
- Don’t dwell on the news – limit your exposure to media coverage that you find upsetting
- Know you can manage this – think about difficult situations you’ve encountered in the past and how you dealt with them. Use those same skills to help you now
The Alberta government offers a Mental Health Help Line, which is available 24/7 to provide advice and referrals to community supports near you. Call 1.877.303.2642.
Text4Hope: Mental health and wellness in a time of stress and isolation
Staff and students may access Text4Hope, a new program offered by the Alberta Health Services. Text4Hope is a free service providing 3 months of daily messages (advice and encouragement) written by mental health therapists to help Albertans develop personal coping skills and resiliency. This evidence-based tool helps people identify and adjust the negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours from the COVID-19 pandemic.
To subscribe to Text4Hope, text COVID19HOPE to 393939. Please note, that since this is one-way communication, this program does not replace other mental health therapies or supports.
How to help others cope, especially children
Children in particular may need extra support in understanding and dealing with their feelings about the impact of COVID-19. To help them, consider these tips from CDC and WHO:
- Make time to talk, and to listen
- Stay calm – children will respond to not just what you say but how you say it
- Don’t stigmatize – be sure that they understand that COVID-19 isn’t anyone’s fault
- Reduce their screen time – too much information about COVID-19 can lead to anxiety
- Tell the truth – provide accurate information using language that is age appropriate; be honest but reassuring about the risks
- Reinforce good hygiene – teach them proper handwashing technique and remind them to sneeze or cough into their elbow
- Create routines – find ways to introduce structure to the day
- Make time for fun – children always need time to play and relax
You can also watch this free webinar from Morneau Shepell called Talking with your children about coronavirus.