Mental Health & Well-Being: Taking care of yourself during the COVID-19 crisis

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On April 6, Dr. Patricia Vickers, Alison McDonald, Vern Williams Jr. and Dr. Gordon Horner joined host Jisgang Nika Collison to talk mental health and wellbeing. You can watch the webinar on CHN’s Facebook page, or continue reading to learn about anxiety, tools and resources, and a list of 7 ways you can stay well during this pandemic.

Anxiety & Stress

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is your “internal alarm system,” it’s your body and mind’s response to stress and can trigger the “fight, flight, or freeze” response. It’s a feeling of fear, nervousness, or apprehension and 1 in 4 Canadians experience anxiety. In small doses, it’s okay, but in large doses, anxiety can impact your health. Right now, anxiety is heightened due to the threat and uncertainty of COVID-19. 

Symptoms of Anxiety

Excessive worry, poor concentration, nervousness, and increased heart rate. Sometimes, people will experience sleep problems, upset stomach, and muscle tension.

There are many tools and resources to help manage anxiety. Staying in the present – not worrying too much about the past or future – will help. Calm your body, try breath work and grounding exercises. 

How are children & youth experiencing COVID-19? How can we support children and youth?

Stress is different for different people. For children, anxiety is expressed through behaviour. Children might be more angry, antsy, or getting upset easily. “Remind them that they’re safe right now,” was Alison McDonald’s advice on how parents can support children and youth. Parents can also model calmness and confidence to reassure children during these times of uncertainty.

7 ways you can stay well during these difficult times

1. Connect with family and friends

Call or video chat with your loved ones. Make sure to phone Elders – keep them informed and offer what support you can. 

2. Take care of your body

  • Eat healthy and well-balanced meals
  • Exercise regularly and get plenty of sleep
  • Stretch, do yoga, or try meditating

3. Stay Structured

Keep as much routine as possible. Go to bed and wake up at the normal time, get dressed and have breakfast on your usual schedule. Decide on work or project goals, schedule time for lunch and breaks, and enjoy evenings off. 

4. Take breaks from social media and limit news feed

Keep informed, but not overwhelmed. Schedule time for social media and news updates – just once or twice a day is enough to stay current but not overloaded with information.

5. Go outside while keeping physical-distance (2 meters/6 feet)

Going outside – whether to your backyard or to the beach – will help you stay grounded and moving. Getting out into nature can be peaceful and calming, and Haida Gwaii is the perfect place for solitude by the water or in the forest.

6. Practice song and ceremony

Music and ceremony can give you strength and connect you to culture and spirit. Find ways to practice song and ceremony.

7. Respect yourself

Respecting yourself is showing respect to others.

Xaad kil: ‘An hl yahguudang

Xaayda kil: Kiinang hla yahguudang

Services & Resources to Support Mental Wellness

Resources to help manage anxiety:
Anxiety Canada

BC Virtual Mental Health Support (free or low-cost)
Mental Health Commission of Canada

Or, download one of these apps:

24/7 Mental Wellness resources:

Crisis Centre in BC
If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide call 1. 800.784.2433
Online Chat Service for Youth (Noon to 1am)
Online Chat Service for Adults (Noon to 1am) 

Kuu-uus Crisis Line:
Toll Free Indigenous Crisis & Mental Wellness Support Hotline: 1.800.KUU.US17 (1.800.588.8717)
Adult/Elder: 1.250.723.4050
Child/Youth: 1.250.723.2040

Hope for Wellness Chat Line
National Indian Residential School Crisis Line Toll-Free: 1.866.925.4419

Crisis Services Canada
Available to all Canadians seeking support

Kids Help Phone
1.800.668.6868 or
Text CONNECT to 686868
Available to young Canadians between 5 to 29 years old who are seeking 24-hour confidential and anonymous care with professional counsellors

Local Mental Health/Wellness Resources

HlGaagilda Skidegate and Daajing Giids Queen Charlotte Area

Haida Gwaii Hospital and Health Centre

Islands Wellness Society
Child and Youth Counselling: Wendy  Phone 250.559.4767
Women’s Counselling: Nell Phone: 250.559. 8828
Outreach and Victims Assistance Program: Contact Bonnie 250.559.8843

Southern Haida Child & Family Services
Counselling & resources for children, youth, & their families
Haida Child and Family Counselling Services

Xaaydaga Dlaang Society  Skidegate Health Centre Mental Health Team
Phone 250.559.4610 and reception can book an appointment for you.
Call or text the mental health cell phone: 778.361.0179
Appointments can also be booked on the Jane App:

Gaw Tlagee Old Massett & Masset Area

Masset Community Programs
250.626.4725 or phone the 250.626.4711 nursing line

Masset Transition House and Help Line
24/7 help line and confidential support available for women, men, and children

Northern Haida Child and Family Services
Counselling & resources for children, youth, & their families)
Phone: 250.626.5257 Toll Free: 1.888. 626.5257

Old Massett Health Centre Mental Wellness
Haida Health Mental Wellness hotline phone (which you can access for mental health emergencies, counselling services or to be directed/supported in accessing further resources from 8:30am-4:30pm)
Phone: 250.626.7884.


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