Mental Health and COVID-19

If you, or someone you care about, are feeling overwhelmed with emotions like sadness, depression, or anxiety, or feel like you want to harm yourself or others call 911. You can also call the First Nations Inuit Health Branch (FNHIB) Hope for Wellness Help Line toll-free at 1-855-242-3310, it is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer counselling and crisis intervention. Chat is available in the following languages:

  1. English

  2. Cree

  3. Ojibway

  4. Inuktitut

You can also connect to the online chat at

Mental Health Considerations during COVID-19 Outbreak

The outbreak of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a disease can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Coping with stress will make you, the people you care about, and your community stronger.

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to the outbreak can depend on your background, the things that make you different from other people, and the community you live in.

People who may respond more strongly to the stress of a crisis include:

  1. Older people and people with chronic diseases who are at higher risk for COVID-19;

  2. Children and teens;

  3. People who are helping with the response to COVID-19, like doctors and other health care providers, or first responders;

  4. People who have mental health conditions including problems with substance use;

Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can include:

  1. Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones;

  2. Changes in sleep or eating patterns;

  3. Difficulty sleeping or concentrating;

  4. Worsening of chronic health problems;

  5. Increased use of alcohol, tobacco, or other drugs;

People with preexisting mental health conditions should continue with their treatment and be aware of new or worsening symptoms.

“Getting back to our land during the COVID-19 pandemic is good for mental health and science has proved what we’ve known for thousands of years, that nature heals.” Ontario Regional Chief, RoseAnne Archibald

Here are five basic tips to assist individuals experiencing heightened mental health concerns to remain calm and balanced as this public health situation unfolds:

  1. Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.

  2. Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.

  3. Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.

  4. Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.

  5. If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as CMHA.

CMHA Ontario and branches around the province provide programs and services to support your mental wellness, such as BounceBack, walk-in counselling, information on stress management, and much more. Learn more and find a local branch at