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Coping, Helping & Mental Wellness

It’s OK to not feel OK. This is a challenging time for everyone. Creating new routines and rituals, and finding ways to have fun and be active can help to adjust to this new situation.

  • Limit your intake of media. Choose 1 or 2 times a day to update yourself on the latest news so you are not bombarded by a constant stream of negative information.
  • Focus on self-care by enjoying nutritious foods, being physically active and getting enough sleep. Our immune system works best when we take care of ourselves.
  • Assess your substance use. Many people may increase consumption of alcohol or cannabis because of excess stress or boredom. Excessive substance use can weaken your immune system and make you more susceptible to COVID-19. Check out Canada’s Low-Risk Drinking Guidelines to see if you are at risk.
  • Connect with friends and family over the phone or internet so you don’t feel isolated. Texting doesn’t give the same feeling of connection as seeing someone’s face or hearing their voice. There are lots of digital technologies that can help us connect while still keeping physically distant.
  • Recognize that our moods can shift frequently and it’s normal to be fine one day then not so much the next. Take the time to validate your feelings and practice self-care in a way that supports your mental well-being.

There are people ready to help you.

  • Kids Help Phone: 1-800-668-6868
    • Or text CONNECT to 686868
  • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-866-281-2911.
    • Anyone who has questions, needs access to services, or is feeling anxious is encouraged to call the Case workers and counsellors working in close to a dozen rural offices throughout the region are also accessible through these main numbers. In addition, the following services are available:
      • Essential Services remain open including Group Homes, Co-op and Residential Treatment Facilities and Intake Screening.
      • All counselling, including Rapid Access and Case Management continue to take place by telephone.
      • Psychiatry appointments will continue through telephone contact.
      • Lanark, Leeds and Grenville Addictions and Mental Health offices are closed but employees are still working from home.
  • Lanark County Mental Health Mental Health Pandemic Helpline 1-833-283-9979 available Monday–Thursday: 8:00am–8:00pm and Friday 8:00am–4:00pm. This line is for everyone – to offer strategies and supports, without shame or judgement.
  • CMHA’s Mental Health Helpline: 1-866-531-2600
  • Good2Talk for post-secondary students: 1-866-925-5454
    • Or text GOOD2TALKON to 686868
  • A Friendly Voice – A phone line for older adults (55+) who may be feeling lonely or isolated: 1-855-892-9992 (note – this is not a crisis line)
  • Bounce Back phone and online mental health program for adults and youth ages 15 and over
    • Longer term program – needs referral from primary healthcare professional
  • Distress Centre of Lanark, Leeds and Grenville1-800-465-4442
    • Trained volunteers actively listen to your issues, focus in on your concerns and help you problem solve. Available 5:00pm–12:00am (midnight), 7 days a week.
  • If you or someone you know is in danger at home from domestic abuse, you can contact Interval House.
  • Assault Response and Care Centre provides help for anyone affected by sexual assault or domestic violence: 1-800-567-7415

Resources for Children and Youth

Resources for All Ages

The COVID-19 pandemic has added to existing health inequities. This means that COVID-19 is disproportionately impacting the health and well-being of people based on their social determinants of health (e.g., income levels, housing, and experiences of social stigma). A response to COVID-19 that values and prioritizes health equity will support community resilience and well-being today, and into the future. Visit our Health Equity and COVID-19 section for more information.

For people who are not self-isolating:

  • Walking outside is good for your body, mind and mood. Go for a walk with people you live with (as long as you are not under quarantine or self-isolation due to illness or exposure). If you choose to walk, find an low populated area and keep your distance from others (2m/6ft). Do not approach animals, and remember to check for ticks and wash your hands when you get home.
  • Talk to neighbours over the fence or at a distance, like at the end of the driveway. Ensure this doesn’t lead to groups of neighbours chatting together – keep a good 6 feet apart (two arms lengths).
  • If you go fishing make sure you do so in a place that is open to the public, and stay 6 feet away from other people.
  • Respects the signs that say a trail, beach, park or other place is closed.
  • It’s a great time to get out the bicycles too! Be sure to practice safe-cycling and keep your distance from others.

If you are self-isolating or unable to get outside, there are some great ways to be physically active indoors as well!

  • The YMCA at Home Programs
  • Check with your local fitness or yoga studio – they may have some online options for you.
  • Have a home dance party (even if you are by yourself)
  • Use video games like “Just Dance” or Wii Fit to make physical activity fun for the family!
  • If you are working from home – try to stand up and stretch every 30 minutes and schedule in some breaks.

Use of Parks and Outdoor Recreation Spaces

Parks and other outdoor recreation spaces are important for maintaining and improving physical, mental, and social well-being. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of these spaces have been closed for public use. Now that more parks and outdoor spaces are opening, there are important considerations we all must take to be safe and protect the health of ourselves and others.

  • If you have any symptoms of COVID-19 stay home and self-isolate. Consider getting tested at a local assessment centre.
  • Stay up-to-date on the province of Ontario’s Emergency Provincial orders (e.g., closures of certain outdoor recreational amenities, restrictions on public and private gatherings, etc.) and your municipality’s rules regarding which parks and other spaces can be used and how they can be used (e.g., pools, splash pads, etc.).
  • Wash your hands thoroughly and frequently with soap and water for at least 20 seconds or use alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Wash your hands when you get home.
  • Always maintain at least 2 metres (6 feet) physical distance from people you don’t live with and those outside of your social circle.
    • Maximize space and minimize interaction between you and others.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Practice proper respiratory etiquette (e.g., cough and sneeze into your arm and perform hand hygiene afterwards).
  • When you do need to go out in public, take a cloth face covering/mask with you so you can put it on when you are potentially in close contact with other people.
  • Step aside or pass others quickly and courteously on paths and sidewalks.
  • Use caution if touching shared surfaces (e.g., benches, playground equipment, etc.) that are permitted for use. Practice proper hand hygiene after touching shared surfaces.
  • Consider avoiding:
    • Crowded places. If the park you choose is crowded, consider going to a different recreation space or going back at a different time of day.
    • Activities that involve physical contact.
    • Organized sports that involve large groups (e.g., soccer, baseball, etc.) and touching the same object (e.g., football, volleyball, etc.).
    • Petting other people’s dog(s) or letting other people pet your dog(s).

Individuals have a great responsibility and opportunity to protect themselves and others from COVID-19. Take your personal actions seriously to prevent the spread of the virus and be kind and considerate.

The best way to help is by staying home! Help #PlankTheCurve by limiting your exposure to others.

The Health Unit is accepting donations of PPE (personal protective equipment – like masks or gloves) to distribute to health care facilities in need – (check expiry dates on any items first) and call 1-800-660-5853 extension 2315 to find out where to drop them off.

If you are well and have the ability to volunteer and still keep physical distancing:

As many people are out of work and in need, community food programs are more important than ever.

COVID-19 has created a lot of fear for many people. In some situations, this fear has led to people being stigmatized or labelled because they have COVID-19, perceived to have it, or because they are a close contact of someone who is positive. This COVID-19 related discrimination is on par with other types such as racism, sexism, and ageism. The effects of stigmatization can be as harmful, or even more harmful, than COVID-19 itself. Not only does it impact the individual, but can impact the greater public. When there is a label or stigma attached, people may be reluctant to get tested for COVID-19 or isolate, for fear of the consequences.

Understanding the facts can help to reduce fear and stigma

  • Individuals who test positive are followed by public health and advised when they can be cleared from self-isolation;
  • Public health staff uses guidelines from the Ministry of Health that are based on available research;
  • People who have mild to moderate symptoms with COVID-19 can stop self-isolating when:
    • They are 14 days past when their symptoms first started; symptoms are resolving and they do not have a fever; or
    • They are 14 days past the date they got tested and they do not have symptoms.
  • Previously, people who tested positive had to have two negative tests, 24 hours apart. Research has found that people with mild and moderate symptoms are not infectious well before the 14 day period is up, so testing is not required;
  • People who are hospitalized and go home have the same clearance as people who have stayed at home. It is only if they stay in hospital or go to a Congregate setting they need to have 2 negative tests.
  • Ministry of Health guidelines state that other arrangements can be made in exceptional circumstances for deemed critical health care workers.

Since COVID-19 is a new virus that our population doesn’t have immunity to yet, anyone has the potential to get it. So be empathic and think about how you would feel if you were treated poorly for having this virus. Kindness and compassion can go a long way, particularly during times of stress and fear.

How can we reduce fear and stigma and promote kindness and compassion?


  • Don’t post or share false information, names or identity of those affected or under isolation/quarantine.
  • Don’t spread fear and panic.
  • Don’t target health care workers or other essential workers – they are there to help you.
  • Don’t judge without knowing the whole story.
  • Don’t address people with COVID-19 as victims. Instead, choose language such as ‘’people recovering from COVID-19”.
  • Don’t attach locations or ethnicities to COVID-19.


  • Acknowledge that everyone is trying to do their best. Appreciate and support the efforts of our essential service and health care workers and their families.
  • Get and share information from credible sources only, such as from the Health Unit, Ontario Ministry of Health, Government of Canada, or the World Health Organization.
  • Think about how your words and actions can impact others.
  • Recognize the things that are within your control to protect yourself and family. Practice physical distancing and hand hygiene, limit close contacts, stay home if sick, and go out for essential reasons only.
  • Be assured that public health follows and isolates people who have COVID-19 and their close contacts.
  • Share positive stories and examples of community kindness.
  • Challenge yourself and others to do random acts of kindness.
  • Accept support from a professional, friend or someone else you trust. For help, check out the “Resources on Coping” section.
  • If you want more information on how to address social stigma and COVID-19, watch this short video.