Jack.org Young Leaders on Mental Health, Frontline Work, and Volunteerism in the Face of COVID-19
In the face of a global pandemic, we’re all called on to do our part. Hundreds of Jack.org’s young leaders are working on the frontlines or volunteering in their communities right now. They’re seeing first-hand the staggering impact COVID-19 has on mental health, and what we can all do to support it. Let's celebrate these young people - and so many others like them - who are helping our communities from coast to coast to coast.
Registered Nurse, Yellowknife, Northwest Territories
"Simply put, there need to be people on the frontlines to take care of your loved ones— their physical health, but their mental health as well. A big part of my job is comforting patients and listening to them as they express their concerns or worries during this stressful time. Healthcare workers are putting themselves at risk by going to work every day, and without these workers the world would be a very different place. And not just healthcare workers, but other people on the frontlines, such as cleaners, delivery people and grocery store workers who cannot be forgotten. Without them, I don’t know what we would be doing.
Our community is strong, and willing to adapt to keep our population safe. Yellowknife has been following public health recommendations, and there are many leaders in our community advocating for seniors and those who are immunocompromised. People are putting together kits with essentials for those in need, offering to pick up or deliver groceries and so much more. I’m very proud of my community and everything they are doing!" — Shania
Resource: The NWT Help Line offers supports to residents of the Northwest Territories 24/7 and is 100% free and confidential. They offer support for stress management, suicidal thoughts, depression and anxiety, grief and loss. Call 1-800-661-0844.
Nursing Student, Iqaluit, Nunavut
"This is a new and scary time. But Nunavut is so amazing and so strong. We are currently the only territory without any COVID-19 cases in Canada. The guiding IQ principle “Piliriqatigiingniq” which means working together for a common cause has truly shone as Nunavummiut work together in practicing physical distancing and safe hygiene.
That being said, I’ve been pulled back from active COVID-19 duty in another community to stay in Iqaluit to help here if we did have cases emerge.
It’s so important to continue to take care of ourselves even through the commotion. The current situations have definitely heightened anxiety; uncertainty can exacerbate existing mental illnesses. How we deal with our feelings of anxiety is so important right now. Take time away from social media for several hours to avoid media overload. Follow social pages that promote positive mental health and provide tips to stay healthy. Just like we are protecting our physical selves, we should also protect our hearts and minds!" — Sopé
Resource: The Government of Nunavut provides daily updates and a list of resources here.
Volunteer Crisis Responder with Kids Help Phone, Toronto, Ontario
"With many in-person services modified, youth need virtual mental healthcare services to fill this critical gap. I am training to be a Crisis Responder with Kids Help Phone. You can still apply to join the growing team! Now more than ever is the time to refine our virtual mental healthcare services. #eMentalHealth
COVID-19 is taking a very clear toll on the mental health of young people with Kids Help Phone experiencing huge rises in the number of texts and calls they are receiving. Virtual services such as KHP's Crisis Text Line remind many young people that they are not alone and that support is a text message away." — Jimmy
Join Jimmy: Kids Help Phone is now accepting both English and bilingual (English and French) applications to volunteer as crisis text responders. This volunteer position will be remote, meaning that you can participate from anywhere in Canada as long you have a strong, reliable internet connection. Learn more here.
Nurse, Red Deer, Alberta
"I’ve been placed on a COVID-19 Response Team with my provincial health authority, so I could be deployed at any time as a nurse to assist with things at hospitals across the province. The response team I’m a part of will fill gaps and give nurses some relief when the COVID-19 crisis places increased stress on our healthcare system. Nurses are at a high risk for compassion fatigue— especially in the midst of a pandemic!
COVID-19 is challenging all of us and impacting our mental health in different ways. Advocating for patients and families to continue to receive mental health services is a must. I hope knowing that we - as nurses - are doing everything we can to take care of our patients' physical and mental health is comforting to folks who may be struggling to find a positive outlook right now (which is totally understandable).
If you want to help your frontline healthcare workers, follow the updates and recommendations from our leaders and medical officers, and reach out to your loved ones on the frontlines. Help the helpers in your lives! I’ve seen first-hand the resiliency of my community and their ability to band together in times of crisis." — Lindsay
Resource: Alberta Health Services has released a series of podcasts on a range of topics including supporting the elderly throughout COVID-19 and common questions answered. Listen here.
Pharmacy Student, Toronto, Ontario
"As a pharmacy student, I work frontline in the community pharmacy setting to ensure patients get the medications they need to manage their health conditions through the COVID-19 crisis. It’s been empowering to see how my community holds safety as a top priority. Pharmacies have implemented various system-level measures to protect pharmacy staff such as plexiglass at the counter, increased frequency of surface disinfection, and screening patients before entry.
I think it’s fair to say that this pandemic changed many of our lives in a short span of time (e.g. a shift from in-person to online learning, major event cancellations, job losses, etc.). The process of learning to adapt, to redirect our time, to handle the pressure to be productive - these can all be super challenging. I think any one of these factors can take a toll on our mental health, not to mention the combination of these and all of them occurring together and suddenly.
Here are a few things I’ve found helpful in protecting my own mental health:
- Maintaining familiar routines in daily life as much as possible, for example sleeping and waking up at similar times.
- Reading books that I’ve never had the time for (recommendations: Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, The Four Agreements by Miguel Ruiz, Becoming by Michelle Obama).
- Listening to podcasts (recommendations: Asian Boss Girl, Unlocking Us, The Tim Ferriss Show).
- Reflecting regularly on what it is I want to accomplish with the time I have now and what I can do to achieve those goals.
- Journaling my thoughts, plans, and what I’m grateful for.
- Cleaning, organizing, and improving my space at home for a more positive atmosphere to be in.
- Limiting the amount of time I spend reading news about the pandemic daily." - Qiqi