Impacts of the Pandemic on Mental Health and Wellness


If you are feeling a little anxious about COVID-19, you're not alone


A Message from Dr. Nel Wieman, Senior Medical Officer, Mental Health and Wellness​

Feeling worried during a crisis is quite normal. You may have feelings of distress due to the uncertainty we are experiencing. You might even find that the COVID-19 pandemic triggers symptoms of trauma. Living through a pandemic can certainly affect mental health and wellness. By being aware of these negative impacts on our wellness, we are better able to cope with them.

First Nations people have a history of suffering adverse health impacts due to infectious disease. Due to the historical, intergenerational, and contemporary trauma that many First Nations individuals live with, the pandemic can also be a trigger for symptoms related to trauma including increased distress, irritability, avoidance, and feeling overly emotional.

It will be very helpful if people can stay calm, keep themselves informed, and feel in control of the measures that they can take to protect themselves and their families. It's also important for First Nations people and communities to realize that we have so many strengths. We have been through adverse circumstances before – many, many times. We will get through this pandemic too. We are resilient. We are stronger together.

One of the best things we can do for our mental wellness is to be as informed as possible without spending 24 hours a day listening to news channels, radio or being on social media. Give yourself some hours a day dedicated to activities that make you feel good. That could be a whole number of different things depending on who you are. Try to choose activities that encompass all parts of wellness – heart, mind, body and spirit.

Some people might want to bead or read a good book, while others might want to drum or sing songs. You may want to practise mindfulness, do yoga or spend time with your family (while maintaining physical distance from those who you do not share a home with). Anything that helps you manage stress is a good thing.

Note that physical distancing does not mean that you can't go outside for a walk. You can even walk with another person as long as you maintain a physical distance of two metres. Going for a quiet, reflective walk on your own, in nature if possible, can be quite calming too.

By staying connected to each other, supporting each other, and helping each other to maintain and build our resilience, we will get through this pandemic.  Remember, humour is one of our strengths and can be soothing so don't feel as if you can't laugh or be amused during this time.

Please reach out and connect with family members, friends, and health providers when you need to. And try and check in with your family members regularly to see how they are doing. There are also many mental wellness and cultural supports available to you.

Mental Health and Wellness Resources

 Coping with COVID-19 (FNHA video on YouTube)

 The impact of COVID-19 on mental health (FNHA video on YouTube)  

 Mental wellness and cultural supports available during the pandemic (FNHA info sheet)

 Staying Connected During the Pandemic (FNHA poster)

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