Mental health wellbeing- Youth empowerment in Calgary

Author: Francis Aranha

As Alberta introduces measures to restrict movement as part of an effort to reduce COVID from spreading, more and more Albertans have been forced to make changes to their daily lives. The new realities of working from home, being laid off, home-schooling kids, and lack of physical contact with family members and friends has taken a toll on our daily lives.

It is challenging for all of us to adapt to all these changes while staying isolated to avoid contracting the virus. Youth are a group that is particularly affected by all these changed. According to data from Statistics Canada from 2015 – 2019, approximately 446 youth aged 10 to 24 die by suicide every year in Canada. This is the third highest youth suicide rate in the industrialized world. The data for 2020 – 2021 is not yet known but has likely made these numbers jump due to the pandemic.

Statistics Canada also published a report in October 2020 reporting that nearly one in four Canadians under the age of 30 were neither in school or work as the COVID-19 pandemic unfolded this past spring. These levels of unemployment are bound to take a toll on the mental health of youth and young adults. Stress levels have risen exponentially throughout the pandemic, particularly within the youth age group. If our youth remain unemployed for long periods of time, there is a chance they may resort to drugs, addiction, crime etc.

Our Federal, Provincial and Municipal government have not done much to keep youth engaged or rolled out a clear strategy to tackle these issues. There are a few support programs, however the individuals in need have a hard time finding these resources. Luckily, there are lots of things that we can do to look after our own mental health and to help others who may need some extra care.

Here are tips and advice that you will find useful.

  • Keep up with a daily routine as far as possible or create new ones. 
  • Exercise regularly
  • Have a regular sleep schedule
  • Keep up with personal hygiene.
  • Maintain a healthy diet
  • Associate yourself with positive people.
  • Spend time outdoors
  • Make time for doing things you enjoy
  • If your movements are restricted, keep in regular contact with people close to you by telephone and online channels.
  • Avoid using alcohol and drugs as a way of dealing with anxiety, boredom, and social isolation.
  • Video games can be a way to relax, it can be tempting to spend much more time on them than usual when at home for long periods. Take regular breaks and practice ergonomic posture and stretch every 2 hours, for a minimum of 15 minutes
  • If you can, offer support to people in your community who may need it, such as helping them with food shopping, mental support etc.
  • Take opportunities online or through your community to thank your country’s health-care workers and all those working to respond to COVID-19. Just by simply saying thank you really goes long way.
  • Look for community activities, social media and community pages have a lot to offer.
  • Look out for part time employment to keep you busy.
  • Be career oriented and participate in online blogs, conference’s etc.
  • Be kind. Don’t discriminate against people because of your fears of the spread of COVID-19. 

If you are a parent

In times of stress, it is common for children to seek more of your attention.

  • Discuss on coronavirus, its implications and safety measures to be taken always.
  • Ask your family members to wash their hands every time.
  • Help children find positive ways to express feelings such as fear and sadness. Sometimes engaging in a creative activity, such as playing or drawing, can help you with this process.
  • Maintain familiar routines as much as possible, or create new ones, especially if you must stay at home.
  • Support your children with at-home learning and make sure time is set aside for play.
  • Help children stay in contact with friends and family members through telephone and video calls.
  • Make sure that your children have time away from screens every day and spend time doing off-line activities together. Do something creative: draw a picture, write a poem, try culinary experiences.
  • Try and ensure that your children do not spend significantly more time than usual on video games.

If you are an older adult

  • Keep regular routines and schedules as much as possible for eating, sleeping, and activities you enjoy.
  • Take all covid safety precautions when outdoors or meeting someone.
  • Learn simple daily physical exercises to do at home when in quarantine so you can maintain mobility
  • Keep in regular contact with loved ones, for example by telephone, e-mail, social media or video conference.
  • Watch out for community news, be aware of what’s happening around you.
  • Ask family members, friends or neighbours for support, if needed.

If you have a mental health condition

  • If you are currently being treated for a mental health condition, make sure that you continue to take medication as prescribed, and that you have a way of re-stocking your medication.
  • Keep in touch with people who care for you and know who you can contact for support if your mental health declines.
  • Eat healthy food, exercise regularly, follow a daily pattern
  • Call the helpline to talk to a nurse, should you not get your appointments on time
  • Try to divert your mind away from any negative thoughts. Go outdoors for a walk.
  • In an event of emergency, please contact the emergency line.

(this blog, doesn’t offer any professional advice, please consult your doctor/ specialist for expert advice)