First Aid for Mental Health: We can all provide it.

by Counsellor Stephanie Young

We are well into the pandemic and it is clear that people’s psychological states are being impacted in a significant way.

In similar ways to natural, environmental or human-made disasters, Covid is causing an increase in anxiety, depression, alcohol and drug abuse, child abuse and domestic violence. The isolated conditions many are adhering to is helping the slow spread of the virus but consequently increasing the growth of mental health and other social-emotional disorders.

There is a lot to consider: disconnect with others, our society, and the things we value, is triggering - for many people - a possible predisposition to depression and anxiety. School closure and limits to employment and workplace access are altering the dynamics in the home, resources for those in need are inaccessible... It is a long list!

As a counsellor, I most certainly encourage people to connect with a professional if they are finding themselves unable to cope.

That said, I also realize that this is prohibitive and difficult for many, so I can only hope that with some education and preparation we can collectively alleviate some of the strain.

All of us can connect.

Do not simply pay lip service to the idea of maintaining relationships while in isolation. Mindlessly scrolling through your Instagram feed and regularly consuming the news is only adding to the psychological distance between you and your community.

Start up a video chat, or at minimum, a phone call to a friend, colleague or family member. Hearing someone’s voice is far superior to reading a text and maybe, on a collective population level, we can help stave off the inevitable loneliness.

These calls may also serve as life saving for those experiencing abuse and danger in the home. The isolation in these situations is exponentially compounded and your support may provide the strength that is needed to seek help.

Coping throughout the unknown days ahead, and afterwards, will be a continued burden on a personal and societal level. The good news is that we can all provide mental health first aid. Be present for others but also for your own purposes- it is not selfish!

Social scientists have proven that helping others provides us with a sense of purpose; altruism (showing concern for others) is very beneficial on one’s own mental health.

Stephanie Young, Counsellor B.Ed (CA), M.Ed (CA), MSocSc (HKU)

Stephanie helps adolescent and adult clients cope with depression, anxiety or other disordered thinking, difficult, stressful life events and emotions and challenging physical health conditions.

Her personal areas of interest, although not exclusive, are personal and family relationships, adolescent development, adjustments to motherhood,  sport psychology, sexuality and identity.

She is registered with the Hong Kong Professional Counselling Association and adheres to the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Associations Code of Ethics. 

Stephanie is a Canadian citizen and long term resident of Hong Kong, mother to two school-aged boys.

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