5 tips for Ontarians to deal with back-to-school stress

Opinion Sep 13, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Starting a new school year always brings a mixture of excitement and anxiety, and that's at the best of times. But managing back-to-school anxiety during coronavirus is a whole new challenge. This year's return to school will look and feel a whole lot different for students, as well as for teachers and parents.

Many uncertainties remain around school openings, safety for our children and their teachers, health concerns over bubbles being stretched to the max (or, more realistically, broken), work implications if everything shuts down again, and so on. The list is endless. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the potential for a resurgence of the virus and the financial challenges that continue?

Change can be scary. But change is also an opportunity to learn and grow. Being prepared to go back to school and having a plan to manage your anxiety will help you rise to the challenge.

A few themes from members of Togetherall’s free, safe, online peer-to-peer mental health community continue to rise up during these challenging times. Here are our tips on building resiliency and increasing our coping skills during this uncertain time.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

 It's OK to feel nervous — we are experiencing unprecedented times. We have no playbook for living through a pandemic. Fear of the unknown is normal. Our brains are designed to protect us from threats, both real and perceived. That’s our natural drive for self-preservation, and it kicks in whenever we feel uncertain, insecure or anxious. Who hasn’t felt that way at some point during all of this?

FIND A SAFE SPACE TO EXPRESS FEELINGS

Despite our ever-connected world, not everyone is comfortable discussing their mental health concerns; 67 per cent of our members joined for the anonymity. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is key to seeking out support. During COVID-19, 55 per cent of our members say they shared something mental health related for the first time. Knowing you have privacy to share your feelings may be the reason you’re able to seek help and community.

ACCESS SUPPORT WHEN AND HOW YOU NEED IT

Times of need don’t just happen between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The good news is there are free support services available around the clock, including Togetherall. Our service experiences its peak hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., a time when most health-care agencies and professionals are not available. For many members, just knowing that help is available 24-7 can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL

It's a process to figure out what works for you, don't be afraid to try different ways to seek support and build your own resiliency. Many people find that peer-to-peer support is enough, where others find benefit when used alongside more intensive supports.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Knowing that others are experiencing the same challenges and having someone empathize can be a relief and a huge comfort. Sharing feelings and thoughts and having someone listen, is immensely valuable for supporting our mental health. As we navigate the next “new normal,” lean in to your community of support to gain reassurance and encouragement.

And, worth repeating, be kind to yourself.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of Togetherall.

Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) in partnership with Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and funded by the Province of Ontario is an online service providing access to mental health support for anyone 16-plus dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Togetherall offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a secure and welcoming environment that harnesses the protective and therapeutic effects of connectedness and safe digital community. The online community is moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals who keep members safe and facilitate the process of people helping people in an online environment, creating a unique setting for members to support their own resiliency and that of others. Register for free using your Ontario postal code at www.togetherall.com.

Looking for more COVID-19-related content? Visit toronto.com/coronavirus to read the latest news, safety information, public health announcements and more.

5 tips for Ontarians to deal with back-to-school stress

Free online mental health service busiest between 1-3 a.m., writes Togetherall director Dr. Tim Rogers

Opinion Sep 13, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Starting a new school year always brings a mixture of excitement and anxiety, and that's at the best of times. But managing back-to-school anxiety during coronavirus is a whole new challenge. This year's return to school will look and feel a whole lot different for students, as well as for teachers and parents.

Many uncertainties remain around school openings, safety for our children and their teachers, health concerns over bubbles being stretched to the max (or, more realistically, broken), work implications if everything shuts down again, and so on. The list is endless. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the potential for a resurgence of the virus and the financial challenges that continue?

Change can be scary. But change is also an opportunity to learn and grow. Being prepared to go back to school and having a plan to manage your anxiety will help you rise to the challenge.

A few themes from members of Togetherall’s free, safe, online peer-to-peer mental health community continue to rise up during these challenging times. Here are our tips on building resiliency and increasing our coping skills during this uncertain time.

Related Content

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

 It's OK to feel nervous — we are experiencing unprecedented times. We have no playbook for living through a pandemic. Fear of the unknown is normal. Our brains are designed to protect us from threats, both real and perceived. That’s our natural drive for self-preservation, and it kicks in whenever we feel uncertain, insecure or anxious. Who hasn’t felt that way at some point during all of this?

FIND A SAFE SPACE TO EXPRESS FEELINGS

Despite our ever-connected world, not everyone is comfortable discussing their mental health concerns; 67 per cent of our members joined for the anonymity. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is key to seeking out support. During COVID-19, 55 per cent of our members say they shared something mental health related for the first time. Knowing you have privacy to share your feelings may be the reason you’re able to seek help and community.

ACCESS SUPPORT WHEN AND HOW YOU NEED IT

Times of need don’t just happen between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The good news is there are free support services available around the clock, including Togetherall. Our service experiences its peak hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., a time when most health-care agencies and professionals are not available. For many members, just knowing that help is available 24-7 can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL

It's a process to figure out what works for you, don't be afraid to try different ways to seek support and build your own resiliency. Many people find that peer-to-peer support is enough, where others find benefit when used alongside more intensive supports.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Knowing that others are experiencing the same challenges and having someone empathize can be a relief and a huge comfort. Sharing feelings and thoughts and having someone listen, is immensely valuable for supporting our mental health. As we navigate the next “new normal,” lean in to your community of support to gain reassurance and encouragement.

And, worth repeating, be kind to yourself.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of Togetherall.

Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) in partnership with Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and funded by the Province of Ontario is an online service providing access to mental health support for anyone 16-plus dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Togetherall offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a secure and welcoming environment that harnesses the protective and therapeutic effects of connectedness and safe digital community. The online community is moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals who keep members safe and facilitate the process of people helping people in an online environment, creating a unique setting for members to support their own resiliency and that of others. Register for free using your Ontario postal code at www.togetherall.com.

Looking for more COVID-19-related content? Visit toronto.com/coronavirus to read the latest news, safety information, public health announcements and more.

5 tips for Ontarians to deal with back-to-school stress

Free online mental health service busiest between 1-3 a.m., writes Togetherall director Dr. Tim Rogers

Opinion Sep 13, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Starting a new school year always brings a mixture of excitement and anxiety, and that's at the best of times. But managing back-to-school anxiety during coronavirus is a whole new challenge. This year's return to school will look and feel a whole lot different for students, as well as for teachers and parents.

Many uncertainties remain around school openings, safety for our children and their teachers, health concerns over bubbles being stretched to the max (or, more realistically, broken), work implications if everything shuts down again, and so on. The list is endless. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the potential for a resurgence of the virus and the financial challenges that continue?

Change can be scary. But change is also an opportunity to learn and grow. Being prepared to go back to school and having a plan to manage your anxiety will help you rise to the challenge.

A few themes from members of Togetherall’s free, safe, online peer-to-peer mental health community continue to rise up during these challenging times. Here are our tips on building resiliency and increasing our coping skills during this uncertain time.

Related Content

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

 It's OK to feel nervous — we are experiencing unprecedented times. We have no playbook for living through a pandemic. Fear of the unknown is normal. Our brains are designed to protect us from threats, both real and perceived. That’s our natural drive for self-preservation, and it kicks in whenever we feel uncertain, insecure or anxious. Who hasn’t felt that way at some point during all of this?

FIND A SAFE SPACE TO EXPRESS FEELINGS

Despite our ever-connected world, not everyone is comfortable discussing their mental health concerns; 67 per cent of our members joined for the anonymity. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is key to seeking out support. During COVID-19, 55 per cent of our members say they shared something mental health related for the first time. Knowing you have privacy to share your feelings may be the reason you’re able to seek help and community.

ACCESS SUPPORT WHEN AND HOW YOU NEED IT

Times of need don’t just happen between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The good news is there are free support services available around the clock, including Togetherall. Our service experiences its peak hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., a time when most health-care agencies and professionals are not available. For many members, just knowing that help is available 24-7 can help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

ONE SIZE DOESN’T FIT ALL

It's a process to figure out what works for you, don't be afraid to try different ways to seek support and build your own resiliency. Many people find that peer-to-peer support is enough, where others find benefit when used alongside more intensive supports.

WE ARE ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

Knowing that others are experiencing the same challenges and having someone empathize can be a relief and a huge comfort. Sharing feelings and thoughts and having someone listen, is immensely valuable for supporting our mental health. As we navigate the next “new normal,” lean in to your community of support to gain reassurance and encouragement.

And, worth repeating, be kind to yourself.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a Psychiatrist and Clinical Director of Togetherall.

Togetherall (formerly Big White Wall) in partnership with Ontario Telemedicine Network (OTN) and funded by the Province of Ontario is an online service providing access to mental health support for anyone 16-plus dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Togetherall offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a secure and welcoming environment that harnesses the protective and therapeutic effects of connectedness and safe digital community. The online community is moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals who keep members safe and facilitate the process of people helping people in an online environment, creating a unique setting for members to support their own resiliency and that of others. Register for free using your Ontario postal code at www.togetherall.com.

Looking for more COVID-19-related content? Visit toronto.com/coronavirus to read the latest news, safety information, public health announcements and more.