From social distancing to self-isolation, the lives of Albertans look a lot different right now. As we navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, fears and concerns around issues like school closures, job uncertainty, economic impacts and panic purchasing can be taxing on our mental wellness.

That’s why we’re joining forces with Alberta Health Services, the Mental Health Foundation, Dr. Vincent Agyapong of the University of Alberta and other hospital foundations across the province to launch Text4Hope—a program to help Albertans cope with heightened stress, anxiety or depression during this time. You can receive daily advice, support and suggested actions from mental health experts to help you build adaptive coping skills and resiliency. Simply text COVID19Hope to 393939 to subscribe free of charge.

Text4Hope provides support using Cognitive Behaviour Therapy-based messages. Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) refers to short-term therapy that helps individuals identify negative thoughts, feelings and behaviours and shift them into healthy thoughts and behaviours when needed.

Built off a program used during the Fort McMurray fires to support wellness, Text4Hope has been customized to reflect the unprecedented situation that thousands of Albertans are experiencing during the COVID-19 pandemic. Alberta Health Services and the University of Alberta suggest that 10 per cent of Albertans will need mental health support during the COVID-19 crisis. Evidence-based and research-supported, the approach is personally empowering, leading to greater emotional control with anxiety, stress and depression reductions of as much as 25 per cent.

“We recognize these are challenging times that call for each of us as individuals and organizations to do whatever we can to support our neighbours and our communities,” says Alberta Blue Cross President and CEO Mark Komlenic. “This is an important time to think about how we can support each other in new ways—such as the Text4Hope program.”

While it doesn’t replace other mental health treatments such as medication, the tool is particularly useful when people are unable to access face-to-face services during self-isolation and social distancing. Text4Hope adds to the network of mental health and wellness resources available to Albertans and helps to alleviate stress on our health care system.

Whether you’re struggling to get dressed and eat healthy each day or simply feeling lonely and in need of some positives during this challenging time, text COVID19Hope to 393939 to subscribe or visit Text4Hope.ca to learn more.

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