Secondary Mental Health & The BC Restart Plan
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May 19th, 2020
COVID - 19
Secondary Snapshot: 
Mental Health & the BC  Restart Plan

Mental Health   BC's Restart Plan

As the Pandemic continues to impact all of us, we are seeing an increase in mental health concerns for youth. Even teens that are reaching out for support, may not feel they are receiving the same relief, as distance counselling certainly feels different than face to face interventions. 
The hope is that as some restrictions loosen, we will all be able to increase positive coping strategies and decrease some of the stressors that impact all of our physical and mental health.  
However, for some, the anticipation of re-entering schools and moving into the next phases of the BC Restart Plan are stressful, and can increase pre-existing concerns such as anxiety.  
Phase 2   3 of Restart Plan:
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Over the next few weeks, our province will move to Phase 2 & 3 of the Restart Plan. While for many, this will be a huge relief, anxious teens may have challenges during this process as well. If they have illness-related fears, they may continue to worry about being exposed to the virus. It is important to note, that for some anxious youth, being away from school has been beneficial, and  the changes may be stressful.  


Teens who are socially anxious and who feel more comfortable at home may not want to go back to the social pressures of school and extracurricular activities.

Talk about these transitions before they occur.

Make a Plan:

Expect that there may be some setbacks. Have a plan to work through them.

Keeping in contact with important people like teachers and friends during the pandemic should make the transition easier.

Seek Support:

This is a difficult time for everyone. If you feel like you or your child need extra support, don‘t hesitate to reach out to your doctor, mental health professional and/or school counsellor.   You and your family can get the help that you need to feel safe and supported.
Anxiety and COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has created anxiety for many people, and it may be escalating as we move into new restart phases in our community. Some anxiety is helpful. It motivates us to prepare and protect ourselves—such as hand washing, physical distancing, and following other advice from health experts.

But for people with anxiety disorders, anxiety can become limiting and unproductive. It can come at times when there is no actual threat, or be out of proportion to the threat. They may also have strong negative feelings, physical discomfort and use unhelpful coping strategies like avoidance or substance use dependence.

People with anxiety disorders usually overestimate the risks of a threat and underestimate their own ability to manage a situation. 
They are more likely to focus on worst-case scenarios. They also have a strong need for control and can struggle in situations that are not routine or predictable.
Living during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are having to cope with change almost daily. Routines like school, work, extracurricular activities, and socializing with friends have all been disrupted. People with anxiety disorders may find it especially challenging to adjust.

Below are some strategies for supporting youth during the next transition.  

Tips for Supporting Anxious Teens


Help them think through the evidence that supports the worry (“Other people are getting sick”) and the evidence that goes against the worry (“Nobody I know is sick yet,” or “Most kids do not get sick from this illness”). This will help them develop a more realistic sense about whether the fear will come true.
Think about other ways to look at the situation that are more balanced and optimistic (“This is hard, but it‘s temporary. Life will go back to normal”).

Remind them that they (and much of the world) are already doing a lot to protect themselves by social distancing and hand washing. These actions will make it less likely that their fears will come true.

Reassure them that even if they (or someone they love) do get sick, there are supports and resources that will help them get through it.
If your teen is involved in therapy for anxiety management, consider keeping it going (many professionals are offering virtual sessions), or make sure they continue to practice the skills they have learned, and if your teen is on medication, do not stop it without consulting a health professional.

Make the best of the situation and focus on the positives, like increased family time, more opportunities for activities that foster closeness and bonding, and that the next phase will mean more social opportunities with some close friends. 
Keep your own anxiety in check because your teen will pick up on it. Model positive coping skills.

Keep in regular contact with loved ones, teachers, and friends through video chats or phone calls. 
Make lifestyle choices that foster physical and emotional well-being:  healthy eating, physical activity, healthy sleep routines, limiting screen time.
Keep routines consistent.

Make time for activities that provide joy, are calming, and/or are healthy distractions.
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Gardening and Mental Health

A report in the Mental Health Journal cited gardening as being able to reduce stress and improve mood, with a reduction in symptoms of depression and anxiety.

To that end, LifeCycles and Farm to School BC have teamed up with the Greater Victoria School District to support the "Get Growing, Victoria!" program.  

From May 25 - June 11, we will be distributing FREE vegetable plants and "How To Garden" resources to SD 61 families and staff.
The plant selection includes: tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, mustard greens, basil, parsley, swiss chard, kale, delicata squash, and cabbage.

Please click on the link below for more information on when and where the plants will be available. 

Mental Health Online Resources:
Anxiety Canada includes resources, coping strategies and education for youth and care-givers

Canadian Mental Health Association has specific information about mental health and the pandemic, as well as links to the provincial organizations

Kelty Mental Health is the mental health resource centre for BC Children's Hospital and links youth and caregivers to many provincial resources
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Click the button below for a comprehensive list of Community Services and their availability during the pandemic.

 Learning Resources:

 Learning Resources for Students with Complex Needs:


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