For the general public, the mental health effects of COVID-19 are as important to address as are the physical health effects. And for the one in five who already have mental health conditions – or the one in two who are at risk of developing them – it is important to monitor your mental well being. (MHA Mental Health America)

This will be a very difficult time for people as they may be separated from their loved ones, some loved ones may not be able to come home due to flights being cancelled and borders closing their gates, or you might not be able to visit an elderly relative. If you have a relative who falls within the vulnerable group you may be worried about their health.

It is important to remain calm during this pandemic but it is vital to take recommendations seriously. If you are being responsible by limiting unnecessary travel, washing your hands regularly and if possible working from home you will help to reduce the spread of the virus.

Self isolation can also be a stressful time and you are likely to feel lonely. It is logical to assume that this will take an emotional toll on your mental well being; as such we have a few recommendations to help you get through this challenging time:

  • Remind yourself that keeping away from loved ones is keeping them safe and that this is only temporary.

  • Communication is key! Keep in contact with friends and family and check in on them to make sure they are doing okay. You can use phone, video chat and face time.

  • Keep to your usual routine; this will be easier if you are working from home.

  • Keep active, if you normally go to gym, workout at home.

  • Use this time to be creative, whether its arts and crafts, restoring furniture, poetry or baking

  • If you hear information that worries you and you are unsure if it comes from a reliable source, then phone a medical centre to check the accuracy of the information. Be careful what you read on social media as this information may not be verified.

  • Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including social media. Hearing about the pandemic repeatedly can be upsetting.

  • Take care of your body. Take deep breaths, stretch, or meditate. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and avoid alcohol and drugs.

  • Keep reminding yourself that this is only temporary.

This will also be a very confusing time for children and teenagers make sure you are listening to their concerns and reassure them that you are doing the best you can to keep them safe. Here are some tips for helping children and teenagers get through this difficult time:

  • Reassure your child or teen that they are safe. Let them know it is ok if they feel upset. Share with them how you deal with your own stress so that they can learn how to cope from you.

  • Limit your family’s exposure to news coverage of the event, including social media. Children may misinterpret what they hear and can be frightened about something they do not understand.

  • Be a role model.  Take breaks, get plenty of sleep, exercise, and eat well. Connect with your friends and family members. Your children will also read off your emotions, so remain calm for your child’s sake.

  • Try to keep up with regular routines. If schools are closed, create a schedule for learning activities and relaxing or fun activities.

  • Encourage them to ask questions and do your best to answer them.

  • Look out for any “out of character’’ behaviour such as unusual clinginess, withdrawn behaviour or irritability.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) supporting and assisting others can benefit both the giver and the receiver. This can include something as simple as calling your friends and family to check up on them or dropping off groceries for vulnerable individuals. Working together as one community can help to create solidarity in addressing COVID 19 together.