Welcome to the CMHA Ottawa client page. The purpose of this section of our website is to provide our current clients with helpful resources, information and opportunities to get involved. This portal is under construction. If you are an active client of CMHA Ottawa and you would like to have a say in the content of this page, please join our communications subcommittee, which will resume operations after the COVID-19 changes to service have ended. To do so, please ask your community support worker about our peer engagement advisory council (PEAC), or call our offices at (613) 737-7791 and ask to be connected with Jacalyn or Patrick.
There’s a lot of misinformation and hearsay out there about COVID-19, also known as the coronavirus. We want you to know what’s real and what’s fake—and what you can do to feel better about it all—so for the next little while, this part of our website will be dedicated to helping you through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Remember to take a break from TV, the news and social media—if you’re able, get outside for a walk or take in some fresh air. Just remember to keep your distance from other people—just to do your part in stopping the spread and to keep safe.
If you haven’t already, please read this letter to clients of CMHA Ottawa from our Executive Director, Tim Simboli, PhD. It explains how our agency is working through this crisis.
It’s also available en Français.
Table of Contents
- About COVID-19 a.k.a. coronavirus
- Physical distancing and self-isolation
- What to do if you think you might have COVID-19
- CMHA Ottawa designated essential service – delivering services remotely
- Mental health resources and crisis lines
- Coping with anxiety related to COVID-19: Wellness activities and tips
- Addictions resources (coming soon)
- Peer supports
- Food security for clients of CMHA Ottawa (coming soon)
- Harm reduction information and support for substance use (coming soon)
- Resources for parents and caregivers (coming soon)
- Fitness (coming soon)
1. About COVID-19 a.k.a. coronavirus
From the World Health Organization (WHO):
“Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by a newly discovered coronavirus. Most people infected with the COVID-19 virus will experience mild to moderate respiratory illness and recover without requiring special treatment. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, and cancer are more likely to develop serious illness.
The best way to prevent and slow down transmission is be well informed about the COVID-19 virus, the disease it causes and how it spreads. Protect yourself and others from infection by washing your hands or using an alcohol based rub frequently and not touching your face.
The COVID-19 virus spreads primarily through droplets of saliva or discharge from the nose when an infected person coughs or sneezes, so it’s important that you also practice respiratory etiquette (for example, by coughing into a flexed elbow).”
On Wednesday, March 11, 2020, the WHO declared the coronavirus an international pandemic.
In Canada, the government is asking all of us to practice physical distancing (staying six feet apart), self-isolation (staying inside our homes) and only leaving the house for the essentials: like groceries, medication and treatments.
On Tuesday, March 17, 2020, the Ontario government enacted a declaration of emergency to protect the public, and on Wednesday, March 25, the City of Ottawa also declared a state of emergency.
On Monday, March 23, Ontario ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces to fight the spread of COVID-19.
But don’t worry: CMHA Ottawa is an essential service, and we’re working hard through the changes our society is experiencing right now. Our teams are working remotely (from home), as we’re following a strict self-isolation and physical distancing policy at CMHA Ottawa, as recommended by public health from the federal, provincial and municipal levels of government.
2. Physical distancing and self-isolation
Physical distancing: From this article
- Maintain a distance between you and other people — at least six feet.
- Every single reduction in the number of contacts you have per day with relatives, with friends and co-workers will have a significant impact on the ability of the virus to spread in the population.
- If you ignore the guidance on social distancing, you will put yourself and everyone else at much higher risk.
- When you go to a public place such as a grocery store, be aware that any surface inside the store may be contaminated. Bring hand sanitizer with you and use a disinfecting wipe to clean the handle of the grocery cart.
- If you can, make use of technologies that can maintain social connections.
You may ask: “Why is called ‘physical distancing’ now? I thought it was social distancing!”
Because physical distancing is the new social distancing: Efforts taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus should encourage strengthening social ties while maintaining physical distancing. Read on in the Washington Post.
To learn about self-isolation, visit this helpful web page from Ottawa Public Health.
3. What to do if you think you might have COVID-19
4. CMHA Ottawa designated essential service by provincial government – delivering services remotely
To our clients: The Canadian Mental Health Association is an essential part of the health care system and are still here to provide help but you will experience changes to the services you’re receiving.
Our agency has decided to be very clear in our “physical distancing” policies. That means there is to be no in-person contact between each other and our clients, like you. That will leave some of you feeling vulnerable and isolated. But it doesn’t mean you’re being abandoned. It just means we must take extra precautions in how we interact—for your own safety and the safety of our community.
Please reach out to your worker, peer or group facilitator by phone, text or email. We are doing our absolute best to maintain communication while abiding strictly by social distancing directives.
Ottawa Public Health has recommended we all self-isolate and keep six feet from each other (physical distancing) for the next while. Our top doctors have recommended that travel outside be limited to the things we need: groceries, prescription drugs and medical treatment, that’s it.
We ask for your patience as we provide alternative service delivery and work to provide essential mental health and addictions services. We hope to return to regular service levels as soon as possible.
5. Additional mental health resources and crisis lines
If you are experiencing an emergency, please go to the emergency department of your nearest general hospital or call 911.
- The Distress Centre answers calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with crisis line specialists providing confidential support. Callers can reach the Centre at 613-238-3311.
- The Mental Health Crisis Line answers calls for people ages 16 or older 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Callers can reach the line at 613-722-6914.
- Tel-Aide Outaouais offers French-language mental health telephone support from 8 a.m. to midnight every day. Ottawa residents can call 613-741-6433 and Gatineau residents can contact 819-775-3223.
- Kids Help Phone (1-800-668-6868) provides confidential 24/7 phone and web counselling for children ages 20 and under.
- Youth Services Bureau (YSB) provides youth and family counselling, crisis support, a 24/7 crisis line at 613-260-2360, walk-in counselling and an online crisis chat service for youth at chat.ysb.ca.ottawa Public Health Information at 613-580-6744 (TTY 613-580-9656).
- 211 connects callers to community, social, government and health service information in Ottawa 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The service is free, confidential and multilingual.
For clients of CMHA Ottawa and individuals experiencing severe and persistent mental illness and/or substance use disorder, please note that the resources listed below are not intended to be a substitute for professional help, diagnoses, or intensive case management.
BounceBack: Feeling low, stressed or anxious?
BounceBack is a free skill-building program managed by the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA). It is designed to help adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression and anxiety, stress or worry. Delivered over the phone with a coach and through online videos, you will get access to tools that will support you on your path to mental wellness.
BounceBack has increased their capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tips to manage mental health during COVID-19 (CMHA Ontario)
In the wake of COVID-19, Canadians are facing a new reality of social distancing, self-quarantining and isolation in order to protect public health and safety. These new circumstances may lead individuals with mental health concerns into heightened symptoms of anxiety and depression.
In what may be a difficult time for many, the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) is offering some basic tips to help people remain calm and balanced as this public health situation unfolds.
- Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to COVID-19, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.
- Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.
- Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.
- Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.
- If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as CMHA.
CAMH: Coping with stress and anxiety
Strategies to maintain your mental wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic – link.
11 tips for staying calm during the time of the coronavirus
From Gretchen Rubin: There’s so much fear and uncertainty around the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation. People all around the world are grappling with it in different ways. Here are 11 Tips for staying calm during the time of the coronavirus.
Big White Wall
- An anonymous community where members can support each other
- Access 24 hours a day, 365 days a year
- Trained practitioners available 24/7 to keep the community safe
- Self-assessments & recommended resources
- Creative tools to help express how you’re feeling
- Wide range of self-guided courses to do at your own pace
Psychiatric Survivors of Ottawa
PSO is excited to launch a telephone peer support service starting Friday, March 20th at noon! PSO’s Peer Support Line allows PSO members and people in hospital to access telephone peer support seven days a week from 12pm-6pm.
If you wish to receive peer support, you may call 613-567-4379 between 12-6 and follow the automated directions. A PSO staff member will act as an intake person to collect your name, phone number, and set up a call-back from a peer support worker.