These insights can help you better support others in your organization with empathy.
Early April, we launched Stronger Minds by BEACON, a program created to support people through heightened stresses related to COVID-19. The program is free for all Canadians, made possible through sponsorship support from Manulife, Green Shield Canada (GSC), Blue Cross and SSQ Insurance. Stronger Minds will be offered indefinitely, in recognition this crisis has an uncertain timeline.
Our team has been in a unique position to hear first-hand the hopes & fears of Canadians across the country. Participants of Stronger Minds are encouraged to message us about what they wish to learn, in order to strengthen their mental well-being through the COVID-19 crisis.
We share these insights to help leaders better support people through the “new normal”.
Extreme uncertainty has created tremendous worry
The constant stream of news, changing rules and indefinite timelines has jarred Canadians into a new normal that’s different for everyone. However, if anything, all are unified in being sure of one thing: uncertainty.
Uncertainty in itself might seem like a worry that’s hard to define. Canadians have told us that they feel anxiety in ways they haven’t before. Or, existing anxieties have been painfully amplified. There are fears for the physical and mental health of family members and friends, job security, communities, and the future. In times like these, anxious minds tend to focus on the worst-case scenario. And people are finding themselves feeling powerless and confused.
Being strong for themselves – and others – is important
Canadians are very interested in building their resilience and stress management skills. They want not only to help themselves through this difficult time, but to help their loved ones as well.
An important part of building resiliency to stress is learning to accept things for what they are. The good news is that cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) provides knowledge and techniques to learn effective coping strategies. While Stronger Minds by BEACON is not therapy, much of its guidance is based on CBT principles.
Facing the future with hope really matters
A heartening and encouraging perspective, to be sure. Canadians are interested in remaining hopeful, positive, and emotionally balanced in the days and months ahead.
Our psychologist team suggests making time to talk about positive or neutral things, rather than current, stress-inducing issues. And to stay motivated and engaged by keeping connected to one’s work, family, friends, partner, community, and the greater meaning in our lives.
Isolation and loneliness are major concerns
With physical distancing, we’re all having to quickly adapt to a very different social reality. Canadians are missing the predictability of day-to-day life that’s tied to relationships with others, whether it’s a daily smile from a coffee shop barista or breaks with work colleagues. And individuals with ongoing mental or physical health issues are missing many of those supports that normally help them cope.
The range of stressors is diverse
We may be dodging a distinct “number five” in mental health worries, but it’s important to see that the emotional struggles of Canadians are tremendously varied as a result of COVID-19. Concerns expressed by Stronger Minds participants include lack of motivation to move forward, parental guilt and frustration, strained spousal relationships, heightened work pressures, and financial stresses.
The good news is that for the complex and evolving emotions most Canadians are feeling right now, the most important strategy of all is to pay attention to one’s mental health and take the time to do something healthy to address the stress and anxiety. That’s why we’ve been so inspired by our Stronger Minds by BEACON participants these last several weeks, and we’re wholeheartedly ready to help many more Canadians who come to us for support in the coming days.