By Sean O’Malley
It may be a while yet before we know the full measure of the impact of COVID-19 on our mental health, but preliminary surveys indicate that many Canadians are reporting higher levels of psychological distress. To help guide us during these uncertain times, we reached out to members of the CAMH extended family – specifically people with lived experience of mental illness who have made a commitment to mental health advocacy. We asked them how they are coping themselves, and if they had any hard-earned wisdom from their previous struggles to pass on.
“People who have lived through trauma have a familiarity with how to negotiate a world that feels quite scary at times,” says Dr. Juveria Zaheer, Clinician Scientist at the CAMH Institute for Mental Health Policy Research and Education Administrator, Gerald Sheff and Shanitha Kachan Emergency Department. “They have some expertise in how to get through hard days.”
Some of our contributors will acknowledge that the current climate of fear, uncertainty and disruption, combined with the lingering impact of social isolation, has taken a toll on their own mental health. Others will say they have returned to the coping strategies that helped in the past. All of them say they wanted to share their experiences in the hope they can be of benefit to others.