This week is Mental Health Week in Canada, and while mental health is an important topic to discuss regularly, the realities of the environment we are currently living in make it even more critical to talk about. As Canada endures a third wave of the pandemic in many areas across the country, people are dealing with feelings of anxiety, hopelessness, worry, loneliness, and isolation.
Over the last year, over one-third of Canadians aged 65 and older expressed that there had been a negative impact on their mental health since the initiation of vital physical distancing measures. The social isolation that stems from having to be physically distant from friends and family can increase the risk of depression. Additionally, existing mental-health services have been disrupted and there has been increased demands for such services due to the pandemic.
The good news is research has shown that technology can be a valuable tool in keeping us connected with mental health resources. Telemedicine-based strategies, such as internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), may have positive impacts on mental well-being by helping to reduce depressive symptoms in community-dwelling older adults.
Technology can also be used as a means of staying connected to friends and family. While technology cannot fully replace human connection, it can keep us emotionally connected when we are physically apart. Research has shown that connecting virtually, and through social apps, can improve quality of life and break social isolation. By talking about accomplishments (for example, the challenging puzzle you just completed, the famous family recipe you made, or the first scarf you knitted), reliving happy times, and sharing life experience, you can strengthen self-esteem and self-fulfillment, helping to improve your well-being. In addition to sharing memories, consider asking friends and family how they are doing,
The conversation about mental health and well-being is one we need to continue year-round. Harness the power of technology as a strategy that can help you strengthen your own mental well-being and remember to check in with others. To read more about mental health, or to access important resources, reference the links below.
Mental health resources in Canada
Wellness Together Canada: This resource provides free mental health and substance use support to people in Canada and Canadians abroad. It’s private and confidential, available 24/7, and allows you to create an account to keep track of your wellness journey. Services include: text-message and telephone support, one-on-one counselling, self-guided apps and courses, and an online community of support and coaching.
Government of Canada: On this page you’ll find access to generally free mental health resources across all provinces and territories. Services and resources may vary by location—they include: internet-CBT, CBT applications, telephone support, referrals to other resources, and more.
Connect with your general practitioner (GP): Your GP or someone on their team may be trained to provide CBT or other mental health services. They may also make referrals to other mental health professionals, resources, or services. There could be costs associated with such referrals.
In immediate crisis: Call 911.