Mental health

Last modified: 
09/22/2021 - 11:50

Where to go for help

  • NWT Help Line – available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is 100% free, confidential and anonymous. Call 1-800-661-0844.
  • Kid’s Help Phone – young people needing to talk to someone can call the Kid’s Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 or go to www.kidshelpphone.ca.
  • The NWT Community Counselling Program – is available free-of-charge to every NWT resident, in every region of the NWT. It helps people deal with a variety of issues including family violence, mental health issues and addictions.
  • Hope for Wellness Help Line – offers immediate help to all Indigenous peoples across Canada. It is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to offer counselling and crisis intervention. Call 1-855-242-3310 or go to hopeforwellness.ca.

Looking after your mental wellness

During these difficult times, it is normal to feel stressed or anxious. Here are some things you can do to boost your mental wellness.

Get out on the Land

  • Go for a walk
  • Notice something beautiful outside
  • Have a fire/camp lunch
  • Pitch a tent
  • Go for a ski
  • Practice a traditional skill

Go to a concert, museum, or famous place without leaving your home

Learn a New Skill

Play

  • A board game
  • A card game
  • An imaginative game
  • A musical instrument
  • Write or tell stories
  • Create a piece of art – photography, painting, quilts, sewing, carving, etc.

Stay connected

  • Face time with loved ones
  • Have a book club discussion by phone, Skype or Zoom
  • Write a letter
  • Create Facebook Live videos
  • Set a fitness challenge for friends/family and compare/post your results
  • Connect with friends to watch Netflix from separate homes, using the Google Chrome extension  “Netflix Party.” 
  • Think about ways we can reach out to/help others who may need help in our community (groceries, snow shovelling, a phone call)

Monitor your News and Social Media Intake

  • With so much advice in the news, remember to get your information from trusted resources, like this website. Information provided by these sources will always be accurate and follow best practices.
  • Feeling information overload? Take a break, only check in once per day, or seek out inspiring  postings
  • Give yourself a “Worry Window” – 30 minutes at the beginning and end of each day to catch up on COVID-19 news. You can stay informed without letting it take over your whole day.
  • Create a new social media group related to one of your interests – keep it positive!

Create a schedule and keep a routine

  • Keep to a daily schedule.
  • Go to bed and wake up around the same time.
  • Include healthy food and exercise.
  • Talking to friends and time outside each day.

We are resilient, strong, and connected. Together, as a Territory, we can take care of each other’s physical and mental health during this scary time.

Keeping children safe and reassured

Although there is a lot of information to be found out there, it is important to take time to discuss what is happening with children in ways that they can understand.

Be aware of how you talk about COVID-19 around your child, as they will look to you to know how worried they should be. When talking to children about COVID-19, provide factual information with a focus on the positive. Share information about what is being done in your community to keep people safe. Keep your explanations appropriate for their age and understanding. It is often best to give small amounts of information and then be ready to answer their questions. Older children are likely to want more detail. Stories with pictures can be helpful for younger children.

Below are some examples of child-friendly stories about COVID-19 and its impacts, such as school closure.

To help foster a sense of control and reduce anxiety, brainstorm with children and youth about ways that they can help, such as washing their hands, practicing physical distancing, thinking of safe activities to do as a family, calling a family member or friend to check in, or shovelling a driveway of an Elder. 

Prioritize mental well-being

Many children will show increased signs of stress in response to so many sudden changes and uncertainty - this is to be expected. Stress will look different for everyone. It may look like:

  • Talking more or less than usual
  • Asking lots of questions
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty paying attention
  • Behaviour challenges

This stress can often be managed by connecting with a caregiver to:

  • Give them time to talk about their feelings
  • Engage in fun activities
  • Practice calming techniques such as deep breathing

However, if your child continues to struggle or you are concerned about their mental health, reach out for help from one of the support lines below or by contacting your local Community Counselling Program.

Adults’ mental well-being is just as important. Be kind to yourself. You have been asked to take on many new roles and the most important thing is to remain healthy, both physically and mentally. 

Supporting mental well-being can look different from person to person and you should find what is right for you and your family. However, here are some general tips. 

  • Find safe ways to stay connected to loved ones. For example, keep up with phone calls, face-time, video-chats, and  outdoor activities where you can keep space between people.
  • Establish a ‘new normal’ and a new routine. Routines can help us to feel in control and promote a sense of safety.
  • Practice calming activities such as deep breathing, muscle relaxation, nature walks, yoga, or other mindfulness activities.
  • Know that the constant flow information from news and social media about COVID-19 will likely have an impact  on you and your family’s well-being. It is a good idea to take a regular break from the information.
  • As a family, set a time daily to share what you are thankful for and at least one positive from your day.
  • Reach out for support. Below are various phone and online helplines. There is support available to individuals of all ages 24 hours a day.  

Resources, tools and apps