COVID-19 is a virus that causes respiratory illness (like the flu) with symptoms such as a cough, fever, and in more severe cases, difficulty breathing. You can protect yourself by washing your hands frequently, avoiding touching your face, and avoiding close contact (2 meters or 6 feet) with people who are unwell.
On March 11 2020, the World Health Organisation declared the new virus a pandemic and governments around the world have jumped in to help stop the spread of the virus.
For more information on COVID-19, please visit the Government of Canada's coronavirus information page.
We are here for you - in a different way.
As the situation around COVID-19 continues to evolve, our services, including counselling appointments, have gone virtual. We have also extended live-answer on our support line until 7pm on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Do you need to talk to someone? Our team is here to listen!
You can view a listing of our current online sessions and workshops here.
Our support line is staffed by a team of mental health counselors who provide individualized supportive counseling, system navigation, and customized information and education to caregivers, individuals living with chronic mental illness, and our community as a whole. We address challenges across the mental health spectrum and have increased capacity to support during this time.
Whether you’re dealing with increased stress and anxiety due to the pandemic, or experiencing challenges related to a mental health issue, we’re here to help!
IAM Support Line
Call us at 1-855-449-9949, or leave a confidential message at [email protected]
Times of great uncertainty around us as well as ongoing instructions from public health to maintain social distancing precautions, can lead some to experience increased social isolation, anxiety, and other negative emotions. This can all be extremely hard for all of us. With news reports, concerns about our health, lifestyle changes, and our regular routines disrupted, this is a time that has the potential to impact our mental health.
Here are some tips to help you during this time:
Know it’s normal to feel anxious at this time, given the attention and conversation around COVID-19. Be aware of your anxiety, but also notice and challenge thoughts that can be extreme or not helpful. Try to keep things in perspective.
Ensure to practice self care, it is critical at this time. Stay connected to your social support network, even though this might mean it’s safest to do so digitally with some people at this time. Do the things you would normally do to support your health and be sure to be cautious, safe and acting within current public health guidelines while doing them.
Be aware of the source when seeking information: use reliable news sources only. You can limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and can turn off “push” notifications from your smartphone or other devices. Appropriate information may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.
Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies, like Public Health Ontario. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.
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 support from your direct health care provider, or call our support line.
5 Coping Strategies During Uncertain Times
- Spending too much time at home, as well as feelings of anxiety, can make our bodies feel tense. Progressive Muscle Relaxation is a technique that teaches you how to relax the muscles in your body, which can lower your overall tension and stress levels. For information on how to do Progressive Muscle Relaxation, visit https://www.anxietycanada.com/sites/default/files/MuscleRelaxation.pdf
- Engage in physical activity. Exercise has been shown to improve mental health, self-esteem, and cognitive functioning. Find creative ways to do so! There are many workout videos online that you can do from the comfort of your own home. If you are able to leave your home, practice physical distancing and go for a walk outside.
- Create a Worry Jar. Write down all your worries on little pieces of paper. Take some time to reflect on the worries you have identified. If the worry is out of your control or something you do not have the resources to address at this moment, put it in the Worry Jar. If the worry is in your control, create a plan for how you can address it. Revisit the Worry Jar every few days/weeks to determine if your worries are still applicable, and if you can address them at this moment. Throw out any worries that you no longer have. You may notice worries come and go.
- Pandemics such as COVID-19 can disrupt one’s daily routine. Find creative ways to maintain your schedule. If you’re used to going to the gym in the morning, try working out at home at that same time. Maintain your regular wake up and bedtimes. Maintaining a sense of routine can create a sense of normalcy and consistency during these uncertain times.
- Find opportunities to smile and laugh. Research has shown that the mere act of smiling, even if it is forced, releases chemicals in the brain that are associated with happiness. Smiling can increase mood, lower stress, and boost immune functioning. Try standing in front of the mirror and forcing a smile or laugh for 60 seconds.
COVID-19 and Clozaril: Your Questions Answered
As the global pandemic of COVID-19 continues to present challenges for people, some concerns have been raised regarding the use of Clozaril (generic name, Clozapine) as a mental health treatment during the pandemic. The use of this medication requires regular blood tests to ensure that its continued use is safe for the individual. Due to public health guidelines on social distancing and essential services, some health care providers are not able to provide the necessary blood testing at this time.
Recommendations for health care providers:
Health Canada has recommended that health care providers use their best clinical judgement to assess the benefits and the risks of blood testing for patients receiving Clozaril and to have discussions with their patients regarding the risks. If patients must forgo or delay blood tests, health care providers must document this and work with the Clozaril Support and Assistance Network (CSAN) to ensure ongoing monitoring. Their website can be accessed here
Recommendations for patients:
We encourage all individuals who have concerns about their medication to talk to your family doctor, psychiatrist or pharmacist. For individuals taking Clozaril, you can also contact the CSAN program at (800) 267-2726 or your local region CSAN Nurse Educator at the numbers listed below.
If you are taking Clozaril and you experience any symptoms of an infection such as a fever, contact your doctor immediately to receive blood testing.