Mental health in a pandemic

Mental health and coping during COVID-19

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Mental health before and after a pandemic

It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry during and after a stressful situation.

Everyone reacts differently, and your own feelings will change over time. Notice and accept how you feel. Self-care during a stressful situation will help your long-term healing. Taking care of your emotional health will help you think clearly and protect yourself and your loved ones.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, one-quarter of New Brunswickers experienced issues related to mental health (depression and anxiety), while a similar proportion experienced issues related to economic or financial stress. Two years later, New Brunswickers reported that mental health issues or substance use for themselves, or by close friends and family had increased.

Reactions during and after can include:

  • Fear and worry about your own health status and that of your loved ones who may have been exposed to COVID-19
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating
  • Worsening of chronic health problems
  • Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs

Coping with these feelings and getting help when you need it will help you, your family, and your community recover from a disease outbreak.

Reaching out for help

Reaching out for help is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength.

  • Kids Help Phone – Text TALK to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868 to chat with a volunteer Crisis Responder 24/7.
  • CHIMO Helpline – Help is just a phone call away: 1-800-667-5005
  • Hope for Wellness Helpline – The Hope for Wellness Helpline offers immediate mental health counselling and crisis intervention to all Indigenous people across Canada: 1-855-242-3310 
  • Bridge the gapp - If you are finding it difficult hard to cope or feel anxious, Bridge the gap offers many services to support your well being.

People with pre-existing mental health conditions should continue with their treatment plans and monitor for any new symptoms. If you experience stress reactions for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them, contact your health care provider or your local addictions and mental health centres.


Self-help tips

Things you can do to support yourself:

  • Take care of your body – Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep. Avoid alcohol and other drugs.
  • Take breaks – Take deep breaths, stretch or meditate. Make time to unwind and remind yourself that strong feelings will fade. Try to do activities you usually enjoy. Maintain a sense of hope and positive thinking.
  • Connect with others – Share your concerns and how you are feeling with a friend or family member. Maintain healthy relationships.
  • Stay informed – When you feel that you are missing information, you may become more stressed or nervous. Watch, listen to, or read the news for updates from officials. Be aware that there may be rumors during a crisis, especially on social media. Always check your sources and turn to reliable sources of information like public health authorities. 
  • Avoid too much exposure to media coverage of COVID-19 – Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories. It can be upsetting to hear about the crisis and see images repeatedly. Try to do enjoyable activities and return to normal life as much as possible and check for updates between breaks.
  • Seek help when needed – If you experience stress reactions (feelings or behaviours) in response to the COVID-19 outbreak for several days in a row and are unable to carry out normal responsibilities because of them, contact your health care provider or your local addictions and mental health centre. 

For more information about how to take care of your emotional health during this stressful time, check out these sources:


Take the mindfulness challenge!

The Department of Health is pleased to announce a new partnership with MindWell. This free, bilingual website offers a collection of resources dedicated to teaching New Brunswickers about mindfulness in action.

Every Tuesday, New Brunswickers will have the opportunity to sign up for the 30-Day Mindfulness Challenge. The program is evidence- based and shown to lower stress, increase resilience, and improve well-being. Plus, the challenges only take 5 to 10 minutes a day! 

The Mini MindWell Challenge is a shorter, slimmed down version of the full Challenge. It can be a great first step for newcomers or the perfect refresher for someone who has already taken the full Challenge. 

Watch your introductory video and begin your mindfulness journey today.  

Wellness Together Canada was funded by the Government of Canada in response to the unprecedented rise in mental distress due to the COVID-19 pandemic. People are being challenged like never before due  to physical health concerns, substance use concerns, financial and employment uncertainty. We’re all going through this together, and we believe that mental health is a journey, not a destination. Each day, we can take a step for our own wellbeing. Wellness Together Canada is here to support everybody on that journey.

We all have different needs. Wellness Together Canada allows you to choose from a variety of resources to motivate and support your wellness journey. 

Alcohol consumption and COVID-19

Stress can increase craving and use of alcohol and other drugs. It’s important to stay in tune with your stress level and pay attention to whether your use is increasing. Make sure your basic needs are met (sleep, food, exercise, social connection). Replace alcohol use with healthy activity options (read, cook, meditate, household projects). Reach out to others for support, especially if you are in recovery.

More information on Alcohol Consumption and COVID-19.

Helpful information on substance use during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) is the go-to place in Canada for trusted information on COVID-19 and substance use. 

Tips for children and youth

The COVID-19 pandemic has been difficult for children and youth who have had to shift between online, at-home learning to classroom learning at various stages throughout the pandemic.

There are many resources available to help children and youth adjust to living with COVID-19, like your school guidance counsellor and online mental health services like Kids Help Phone, where all you need to do to talk to someone is text, “TALK” to 686868 or call 1-800-668-6868 to chat with a volunteer Crisis Responder 24/7.


Tips for parents and guardians

Children react, in part, to what they see from the adults around them. When parents and caregivers deal with the COVID-19 calmly and confidently, they provide the best support for their children. 

Mental health and the workplace

The workplace can be a major source of stress, especially during and after a crisis situation.

Stress and the feelings associated with the pandemic are by no means a reflection that you cannot do your job or that you are weak. Managing your mental health and psychosocial well-being during this time is as important as managing your physical health.

Helping responsibly means taking care of your own health and well-being. You are vital and valued. Take care of yourself, so you can best take care of others.

For mental health resources for the workplace, please see below:

Anxiety and anxiety disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic

This is an anxiety-provoking and stressful time for everyone, and it's okay if you feel more anxious than usual. While anxiety is a normal and expected reaction to the pandemic, too much anxiety can start to cause harm. Therefore, it is very important for all of us to take steps to manage our anxiety, especially those who already have Anxiety Disorders and are at greater risk of relapse. 

More information on anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders during the COVID-19 crisis

Life stressors, including stressful life events like the COVID-19 pandemic, are risk factors for both the development of new psychotic disorders and the worsening of symptoms for those with pre-existing psychotic disorders. People living with psychotic disorders may be at increased risk of getting COVID-19 and of worse outcomes from COVID-19 than the general population. The social effects of COVID-19 may disproportionately impact people with psychotic disorders or at risk of psychotic disorders.

More information on schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Depression during the COVID-19 pandemic

Depression is significantly influenced by environmental stress. The unique environmental stressors of the COVID-19 pandemic  suggest a larger number of people than usual may develop depression. In addition to the s stress caused by the pandemic many of us are suffered significant personal losses and grief reactions, which are strong predictors of depression. And because the stressors are ongoing and unpredictable, the risk is even higher. As well, symptoms of pre-existing conditions such as major depressive disorder (MDD) may also worsen due to the increased stressors and the loneliness  experienced throughout the pandemic.

More information on depression during the COVID-19 pandemic