Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) and Mental Health

Here in the Ontario/ Quebec regions the schools, universities and daycares have closed for two weeks or have offered remote attendance. We are not allowed to gather in places of 250 people or more. We are advised to try to remain indoors and to make sure we sanitize and wash our hands many times a day. Many public places have hand wipes in the entrance and in some places a security guard is making sure we clean our hands as soon as we enter. Toilet paper is nowhere to be found in grocery stores, the economy is taking a big hit and flights are being cancelled. When we watch the news or read articles it might feel like we are entering a zombie apocalypse. These are trying times. It is definitely not easy, it definitely feels scary and for some it is pretty intense.

This might affect people with pre-existing mental health conditions, health care providers and first responders directly involved in helping with the response to COVID-19, as well as people with weaker immune systems and older people that are at a higher risk.

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In situations like these panic may ensue, anxiety levels rise, fear and confusion might take place. Symptoms that may arise are fear and stress about your own health and the health of your loved ones, difficulty sleeping, changes in eating patterns, having a hard time concentrating, increase in substance use or worsening of chronic health conditions.

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– Take time to unwind. Focus on your hobbies, any interest you may have that you could do safely. If you do not know what that is try different things out. Go online and search for options or ask friends and family what they enjoy doing and see if anything sparks an interest.

– Talk to others. Make time to connect and voice concerns and feelings to people you feel close to.

– Meditate, take deep breaths, stretch, try to eat healthy, exercise, try to create a routine for sleep and avoid alcohol or drugs.

– Avoid social media. Step away from watching, listening and/ or reading news stories. Staying on top of the news on a constant basis becomes overwhelming and unnerving.

– Talk with your children about their concerns. Answer their questions and provide them with facts about COVID-19 in a way they can understand and reassure them that through proper steps they can be safe.

– For children that will have to stay home, as schools are closed, maintain a routine for them. Schedule learning, relaxing and fun activities.

If you are struggling feel free to contact me, Sophia Nicoli MSc, RMFT at Willow Roots Therapy. I provide counselling to couples, families and individuals and am located on 323 Chapel Street in Ottawa, Ontario. You can contact me by email at or call at 613-620-0660 or you can find more information on my website at