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Response to COVID-19

Coronavirus Anxiety Workbook

This workbook was developed by The Wellness Society and it contains information to help staff and program participants understand anxiety as well as tools to help manage and reduce anxiety.


As we move from the curious, awkward and fear phase to the frustrating, difficult to understand and angry phase of this crisis, I thought I would share a few words of wisdom from Simon Sinek. To serve as reminders and perhaps inspiration of our responsibilities as leaders. Remember together is better and together we got this.

✅ Trust people are doing the best they can. Guess what? Productivity may not be what you hope – people are managing a lot – homeschooling, working from home for the first time, stress and anxiety and more. Give people some grace.

✅ Listen more than you talk. Give people space to share what they think and feel. Ask open questions. Listen with empathy.

✅ Get to know people on a human level. People need to know you care. Introduce yourself to kids, partners, pets who interrupt y in our calls rather than seeing them as an annoyance.

✅ Practice vulnerability with your team. Pretend you’re not struggling, and you’ll lose trust. Be honest and authentic about your own challenges.

✅ Ask people how they’re feeling, and really listen. We check in with “three words to describe how you’re feeling” and spend time discussing what’s going on before getting to business.

✅ Practice empathy and compassion. Everyone will deal with this differently and every day will be different. Put yourself in people’s shoes and be kind.

✅ Ask for help. Model this so that your team knows it’s okay to ask when they need support.

Michael Anhorn,
Executive Director

These past few weeks have been very challenging and difficult for all of us. We encourage you to take care of yourself and stay current by following the news and updates as new health and government announcements are made.

As the situation related to COVID-19 continues to evolve, CMHA-VF continues to evolve our responses. The safety of program participants and staff is of utmost priority. Ensuring we continue to connect with and support our program participants is our next priority.

As we all feel increased stress and uncertainty, know that we are here for you. We walk beside you.  Now more than ever support for people with mental illness and supporting all people’s mental wellness is important.

We continue to provide services and resources to our members, clients and supporters. We find ourselves doing so through phone, online and other virtual communications. In consultation with other CMHA branches, we are exploring webinar and podcast opportunities and virtual platforms which may help us in delivering services to the community at large.

Our services are changing in response to the current reality and every day we see new opportunities to engage with our clients, providing physically safe ways to do so.

Please continue to check in with us for updates and we continually look for creative ways to offer support and connection.

Please take care of yourself and each other through this time of uncertainty and change.

Michael Anhorn,
Executive Director

Protect your mental health

Program managers and team leads are working tirelessly to ensure that the best possible supports are available to you during this time.

Please take a few minutes to read the following from our Resilient Minds workshop, that seems particularly applicable to the time we are living in.  This helps to remind all of us of the self-care skills and knowledge we likely already have, but from time to time need to be reminded about.

“Often in times of uncertainty we experience negative thoughts, we question our actions and we can feel an overwhelming sense of anxiousness. This is normal. We are working/living in totally uncharted waters and all of us are impacted on a whole new level. I want to share some tips/advice to help with these feelings and emotions. 

This content is based on research and is part of CMHA’s Resilient MindsTM program for Building the Psychological Strength of Fire Fighters, 2017.

1.       Breathe Deeply: If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, take a deep breath – until your abdomen rises. Breath in for 4 seconds, hold for 4, then out for 4. Hold for 4. Repeat. Box breathing is a simple technique to help ground us. This not only slows the heart rate, it lowers blood pressure and improves focus. This is a strategy that has been used for centuries and is used by top athletes. It allows us to be in the moment and gives us the ability to focus on the task at hand. Use this frequently, even when you are feeling okay. Read more about breathing deeply.

2.       Realistic optimism: This is not pretending to feel good about a situation, but rather changing the meaning of an event by generating a perspective that is both truthful and positive.  We can’t control the weather, stock market, other people’s behaviour… ultimately, things that concern us. We can avoid wasting our energy on things we can’t control, and put our energy and focus on what we say and do. We can consider the possible consequences and make different choices to effect the outcome – therefore increasing our ability to grow. Working from a place of control increases our ability to have positive impact. Read more about realistic optimism.

3.       Self-efficacy: This is simply our perceived ability to meet the demands and cope with life experiences. It’s the capacity to organize and use available resources. It involves responding mindfully to internal and external stressors rather than reacting. Ultimately it’s trusting yourself, your skills and your teams. Preparation, planning and clear thinking, mean fewer variables and less anxiety, helping us to remain agile for responding to changing circumstances. Read more about self-efficacy.”              By Seia Roots and Steve Fraser

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