We need a road map for protecting our mental health in the months to come

Opinion May 14, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Most of us in our lifetime could never have imagined living through the last two months. The concept of social isolation was the stuff of textbooks and not an everyday reality. No one could have foreseen the near shuttering of the economy, children at home for months with no clear return to school in sight. Add to that the overwhelming fear and anxiety for our health and safety and that of our loved ones.

But we’ve come this far. And we are in it together; no one is getting a pass on the multitude of effects of COVID-19. In taking stock of our “new normal,” we’ll continue to live with social distancing rules for some time to come, schools still out, businesses closed and so on. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the ongoing isolation and the financial challenges that continue?

We can look at what’s worked over the past two months to inform our future. Lessons learned from our members during these surreal times about protecting our mental health will serve us well in the months ahead. Here are four themes that consistently come up as critical success factors in guarding our mental health.

COMMUNITY MATTERS NOW MORE THAN EVER

People across all sectors, genders, ages, living arrangements and locations, commented on the value of a supportive community. Knowing there were others experiencing the same challenges or those who could empathize was a huge comfort. Being able to share feelings and thoughts and have someone listen, was immensely valuable for supporting mental health. In the months ahead, continue to lean in to your community of support and gain reassurance and encouragement that we can get through this time.

TIMES OF NEED DON’T HAPPEN BETWEEN 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M.

There’s tremendous value in mental health support being available any day of the week, any time of day or night. As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” knowing that help is available 24-7 will help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

WE BENEFIT FROM BOTH PEERS AND PROFESSIONALS

Most people gain from a combination of peer-to-peer support from those experiencing similar feelings combined with access to a qualified professional as needed. Our peer group helps create a safe place to talk and share feelings, support others and be supported. Having access to trained professional counsellors provides a level of trust and comfort in knowing you’re in a safe and protected environment. Going forward, seek out support from both groups to build your resiliency.

THE GIFT OF ANONYMITY IS A GAME CHANGER

Despite living in a time where people are more open about their thoughts and feelings, many are still often reluctant to discuss mental health concerns and might be hesitant to seek support because of what others will think. During COVID-19, we know many are reaching out for mental health support for the first time. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is the key for many to receive the support they need. As we move ahead, knowing you have privacy may be the reason you’re able to seek support and community.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a psychiatrist and the clinical director of Big White Wall, a free online mental health support service available to Ontarians dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Funded by the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Telemedicine Network, it's an online community that offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a safe and welcoming environment while being moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals.


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

We need a road map for protecting our mental health in the months to come

Dr. Tim Rogers explores how to remain #healthyathome during COVID-19 crisis

Opinion May 14, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Most of us in our lifetime could never have imagined living through the last two months. The concept of social isolation was the stuff of textbooks and not an everyday reality. No one could have foreseen the near shuttering of the economy, children at home for months with no clear return to school in sight. Add to that the overwhelming fear and anxiety for our health and safety and that of our loved ones.

But we’ve come this far. And we are in it together; no one is getting a pass on the multitude of effects of COVID-19. In taking stock of our “new normal,” we’ll continue to live with social distancing rules for some time to come, schools still out, businesses closed and so on. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the ongoing isolation and the financial challenges that continue?

We can look at what’s worked over the past two months to inform our future. Lessons learned from our members during these surreal times about protecting our mental health will serve us well in the months ahead. Here are four themes that consistently come up as critical success factors in guarding our mental health.

COMMUNITY MATTERS NOW MORE THAN EVER

Related Content

People across all sectors, genders, ages, living arrangements and locations, commented on the value of a supportive community. Knowing there were others experiencing the same challenges or those who could empathize was a huge comfort. Being able to share feelings and thoughts and have someone listen, was immensely valuable for supporting mental health. In the months ahead, continue to lean in to your community of support and gain reassurance and encouragement that we can get through this time.

TIMES OF NEED DON’T HAPPEN BETWEEN 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M.

There’s tremendous value in mental health support being available any day of the week, any time of day or night. As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” knowing that help is available 24-7 will help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

WE BENEFIT FROM BOTH PEERS AND PROFESSIONALS

Most people gain from a combination of peer-to-peer support from those experiencing similar feelings combined with access to a qualified professional as needed. Our peer group helps create a safe place to talk and share feelings, support others and be supported. Having access to trained professional counsellors provides a level of trust and comfort in knowing you’re in a safe and protected environment. Going forward, seek out support from both groups to build your resiliency.

THE GIFT OF ANONYMITY IS A GAME CHANGER

Despite living in a time where people are more open about their thoughts and feelings, many are still often reluctant to discuss mental health concerns and might be hesitant to seek support because of what others will think. During COVID-19, we know many are reaching out for mental health support for the first time. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is the key for many to receive the support they need. As we move ahead, knowing you have privacy may be the reason you’re able to seek support and community.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a psychiatrist and the clinical director of Big White Wall, a free online mental health support service available to Ontarians dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Funded by the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Telemedicine Network, it's an online community that offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a safe and welcoming environment while being moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals.


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

We need a road map for protecting our mental health in the months to come

Dr. Tim Rogers explores how to remain #healthyathome during COVID-19 crisis

Opinion May 14, 2020 by Dr. Tim Rogers Toronto.com

Most of us in our lifetime could never have imagined living through the last two months. The concept of social isolation was the stuff of textbooks and not an everyday reality. No one could have foreseen the near shuttering of the economy, children at home for months with no clear return to school in sight. Add to that the overwhelming fear and anxiety for our health and safety and that of our loved ones.

But we’ve come this far. And we are in it together; no one is getting a pass on the multitude of effects of COVID-19. In taking stock of our “new normal,” we’ll continue to live with social distancing rules for some time to come, schools still out, businesses closed and so on. How do we protect our mental health while we deal with the mounting anxiety of a huge unknown, the ongoing isolation and the financial challenges that continue?

We can look at what’s worked over the past two months to inform our future. Lessons learned from our members during these surreal times about protecting our mental health will serve us well in the months ahead. Here are four themes that consistently come up as critical success factors in guarding our mental health.

COMMUNITY MATTERS NOW MORE THAN EVER

Related Content

People across all sectors, genders, ages, living arrangements and locations, commented on the value of a supportive community. Knowing there were others experiencing the same challenges or those who could empathize was a huge comfort. Being able to share feelings and thoughts and have someone listen, was immensely valuable for supporting mental health. In the months ahead, continue to lean in to your community of support and gain reassurance and encouragement that we can get through this time.

TIMES OF NEED DON’T HAPPEN BETWEEN 9 A.M. TO 5 P.M.

There’s tremendous value in mental health support being available any day of the week, any time of day or night. As we continue to navigate this “new normal,” knowing that help is available 24-7 will help reduce feelings of isolation and anxiety.

WE BENEFIT FROM BOTH PEERS AND PROFESSIONALS

Most people gain from a combination of peer-to-peer support from those experiencing similar feelings combined with access to a qualified professional as needed. Our peer group helps create a safe place to talk and share feelings, support others and be supported. Having access to trained professional counsellors provides a level of trust and comfort in knowing you’re in a safe and protected environment. Going forward, seek out support from both groups to build your resiliency.

THE GIFT OF ANONYMITY IS A GAME CHANGER

Despite living in a time where people are more open about their thoughts and feelings, many are still often reluctant to discuss mental health concerns and might be hesitant to seek support because of what others will think. During COVID-19, we know many are reaching out for mental health support for the first time. Being able to share how you are feeling without judgment or stigma is the key for many to receive the support they need. As we move ahead, knowing you have privacy may be the reason you’re able to seek support and community.

Dr. Tim Rogers is a psychiatrist and the clinical director of Big White Wall, a free online mental health support service available to Ontarians dealing with anxiety, depression and other common mental health issues. Funded by the Province of Ontario and the Ontario Telemedicine Network, it's an online community that offers anonymous, free, peer-to-peer support in a safe and welcoming environment while being moderated 24-7 by clinical professionals.


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