Local mental health services are more important than ever

Story by Stacie Gaetz


Photos by iStock

Staff at North Rocky View Community Links want the residents of Airdrie and the surrounding communities to know that help is available to them during this difficult time.

It is more important than ever for residents to have access to counselling and mental health services, but many people are not aware that the help is out there at a time when other businesses and services are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You are able to get the help you need,” said Sandra Joe, support services manager at North Rocky View Community Links.

“All of our services are up and running, although they may look a bit different. If you need help, any help at all, we will help you or get you in touch with someone who can. Please don’t go without at this time. It’s more important than ever that we are taking care of ourselves.”

Community Links has added a free call-in counselling centre (available at 403-945-3900) that is open from Monday to Friday from 10 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 3 pm.

“We know that the stressors are higher than ever, and the need is there,” said Joe.

“People are at home with the whole family, which they are not used to and that leads to more arguments. Even if someone is working outside of the home, they are worried about catching COVID or losing their job. Tensions are high and the situation is out of our control, which causes anxiety.”

Joe said Community Links’ services that have seen the most increase since March are the intimate partner violence services and seniors’ services.

She added from mid-March until now many people have been in “survival mode” and have been working hard to make sure their families are safe. However, now that the peak is over, businesses are starting to re-open, we are just starting to get back to a “new normal,” which can give us enough time to realize something might be a bit off in our new reality.

“What we are seeing is that people are so busy taking care of the other people in their lives that they are not taking the time to check in with themselves and that can only go on for so long,” said Joe.

“It’s true what they say about putting on your oxygen mask first in a plane that’s going down. If you are not taking care of yourself, you can’t take care of anyone else. You need to be mindful of where you are mentally, intellectually, spiritually and physically.”

She said ways that people can cope with low-level anxiety include listening to music, yoga and exercise, connecting with friends and family via phone and virtual means, limiting the amount of news coverage they watch and focusing on what they can control and change.

“We are all feeling fear, but it is time to reach out and get some help when you are obsessing over it,” said Joe.

“When it becomes all-consuming and you are feeling sick to your stomach, when you are not sleeping. When it affects your daily living and ability to cope, it’s time to call.”

She added that in urgent cases, victims can call ahead and then come into the Community Links office for assistance. The office has social distancing measures and sanitation practices in place.

She said she encourages residents to call Community Links and inquire about services even if they are unsure that they need help.

“It’s much better to be preventative than reactive after something terrible happens,” said Joe.

For more information or to contact Airdrie Community Links, click here or call 403-945-3900.