Mental Health Resources during COVID-19
The safety and well-being of our students, their families and staff are our top priority. We are all faced with uncertainty during this time of social distancing and self isolation. It is important to monitor and take care of our mental health. We have prepared some resources to help with managing difficult conversations and supporting overall mental health during these difficult times.
If this is an emergency, call 911. If you or someone you know is in crisis or needs help:
- Guelph/Wellington: 1 844 437 3247 (HERE247)
- Dufferin: 519 941 1530 (DCAFS)
- KidsHelpPhone: 1 800 668 6868
- Compass Community Services LGBTQ+ Support Line: 226 669 3760 (call or text – free and confidential emotional support)
Supporting your anxious child/ren:
Be patient. Stay calm. Reassure. Provide relevant information and clarity.
Go to reputable sources for information and updates:
Routines provide predictability and can be very supportive for those struggling to cope. Routines can include things such as learning, self care, creativity, and physical activity.
Make yourself available and remain calm:
Children may need some extra attention or affection during these uncertain times. They may want to talk about concerns, fear and questions. Remember children will follow your reactions so it is important to remain calm and reassuring. Emphasize that your children and your family are fine. Remind younger children that the adults will keep them safe. See below for ways to support these conversations with your children.
Share information in concrete way and focus on relevant details:
Limit conversations that children cannot control or help with, such as wage losses. Instead, talk about how you are helping to keep them safe. You can discuss good hygiene and even make games out of washing routines. If children ask for statistics or numbers ensure that you use a reliable source. Most importantly, validate their questions and concerns. Ensure you correct misinformation that they may have seen on social media or heard from others. Encourage them to approach you with questions or set up a regular time, as part of your household routine, to have a discussion to answer questions and discuss new information as appropriate. Be sure that you are being HONEST while also responding in an age appropriate way while avoiding statements like “don’t worry” or “it’s all okay”.
Age Appropriate Explanations: (adapted from www.cmhaww.ca)
JK to Grade 3: need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their schools and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick. Give simple examples of the steps people take every day to stop germs and stay healthy, such as washing hands. Use language such as “adults are working hard to keep you safe.”
Grades 4-6: will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe and what will happen if COVID-19 comes to their school or community. They may need assistance separating reality from rumor and fantasy. Discuss efforts of school and community leaders to prevent germs from spreading.
Grades 7-12 Upper middle school and high school students are able to discuss the issue in a more in-depth (adult-like) fashion and can be referred directly to appropriate sources of COVID-19 facts. Provide honest, accurate, and factual information about the current status of COVID-19. Having such knowledge can help them feel a sense of control.
Monitor television viewing and social media:
Over exposure to information can be very upsetting and impact your child’s ability to cope. Take the time to discuss how not everything on social media and the internet is always accurate information. Return to the above noted reliable sources to focus on information gathering. Remember, information designed for adults can increase anxiety and concern in children. So monitor your child’s use but also your own as well!
Reach out and stay connected:
Organize phone calls, face-time or other methods to create connection during social isolation. Connectedness is an important part of mental wellness.
There are Apps available for Mental Health:
SAM (Self-Help for Anxiety Management)
Self-Help for Anxiety Management (SAM) is a free app that provides people with instructions and activities for managing anxiety. Users can log in and trend their present level of anxiety, list things that make them anxious, read about activities for improving anxiety management, use tools (e.g. though recorder, breathing timer) for anxiety management, bookmark useful tools and approaches, and discuss anxiety management with other users.
SuperBetter builds resilience – the ability to stay strong, motivated and optimistic even in the face of change and difficult challenges. Playing SuperBetter unlocks heroic potential to overcome tough situations and achieve goals that matter most. (F)
Overcome stress and negative thoughts. Build Resilience. (S)
Made for meditation on the go (“Urban Meditation”)
Stop, Breathe, and Think
Emotional tracker lets you note moods before and after meditating and track your mental wellness over time.
The Five Minute Journal
The Five Minute Journal is based on proven positive psychology research. It focuses your attention on the good in your life and helps you set action in just 5 minutes a day.
A meditation app for beginners that also includes programs for intermediate and advanced meditators. Guided meditation sessions are available in lengths of 3, 5, 10, 15, 20, or 25 minutes so you can choose the length that best fits your schedule.
Learn the essentials of meditation and mindfulness with their free Basics pack. If you enjoy it, you can subscribe.
Additional COVID-19 mental health resources:
- A Suicide Prevention Guide for Parents and Families During COVID-19 and Returning to School
- Mental Health and Well-Being Resource List and Contact Information
- Noticing Mental Health Concerns for your child
- Supporting Mental Health and Wellness During the Return to School
- ‘Brains On’ (A Podcast for kids) –Understanding Coronavirus and how germs spread
- World Health Organization (WHO) – Coping with Stress during Covid-19
- WHO Infographic – Helping children cope with stress during the 2019-nCoV outbreak
- MPR News – Comic about Coronavirus for Kids – based on an NPR interview
- Psychology Today – Article: How to talk to Kids and Teens about the Coronavirus
- Seattle Children’s Hospital Research Foundation – Helping Children and Teens Cope with Anxiety About COVID-19
- CDC – Talking with children about Coronavirus Disease 2019: Messages for parents, school staff, and others working with children
- Coronavirus Social Story by KeshetChicago
- Toronto District School Board – Helping Your Kids in Changing Times
- Toronto District School Board – Tips for Supporting Teens
- School Mental Health Ontario – How to Support Student Mental Health During the Covid-19 Pandemic
- Kids Help Phone – We’re Here for You During Covid-19
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) – Talking to Children about Covid-19 and Its Impact
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario – Talking to Your Anxious Child about Covid-19
- Steps to self awareness and self regulation
Additional mental health resources:
- The ABCs of Mental Health
- Teen Mental Health
- eMental Health
- Kids Help Phone
- Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)
- Free Mental Health Counselling
- Mind check
- Children’s Mental Health Ontario
- Ontario Centre of Excellence for Child and Youth Mental Health
- Anxiety BC
- Talking about Mental Health Durham
- National Institute for Mental Health
- Helping Other Parents Everywhere
- Mind Your Mind
- Caring for Kids (Canadian Paediatric Society)