To say that the past few weeks have been a challenge for Albertans, and people worldwide would be a massive understatement. I’ve personally struggled with my mental health for several years now (I shared my story here if you missed it!) and, amongst the MANY stresses and emotions I’ve been currently experiencing, my own mental health has been top of mind.
You see, being sequestered at home is a huge trigger for me. It takes me RIGHT back to the darkest days I experienced with my illness. As part of my ongoing recovery, I manage my depression and anxiety with a rigorous routine and self care practices—all of which involve me leaving my home. Suffice to say, knowing I can’t manage my mental health as I have in the past five years has made for an especially difficult time.
As soon as the isolation and social distance measures were put into place, I immediately began wracking my brain and scouring the internet for strategies and ways to help combat the additional anxiety I was experiencing. I knew I would have to come up with a new mental health care plan in order to function for my family during this time. That’s why I was so thrilled to discover Text4Hope, a program Alberta Blue Cross recently launched in conjunction with Alberta Health Services, the Mental Health Foundation, the University of Alberta Hospital Foundation and other hospital organizations across the province.
I subscribed to the program immediately
, by texting COVID19Hope to 393939. Now, each morning when I open my phone, I get a boost of mental wellness to start my day off right. Each day, I look forward to these texts and the tangible, helpful information provided. The messages contain a variety of strategies and suggestions for actions—all written by mental health experts. The messages use Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) to help make me feel in control of negative thoughts and feelings during this difficult time.
I can honestly say that the Text4Hope initiative has helped make this very trying time less foreboding. I love that there is no cost to this program—it is completely free and credible advice, researched by the University of Alberta’s Dr. Agyapong and proven to help reduce stress and anxiety. You don’t have to have a pre-existing struggle with mental health to benefit from this program! Right now, all Albertans are coping with heightened stress, anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this initiative was designed to help by both supporting and suggesting actions that help build adaptive coping skills and resiliency.
We hope this initiative can provide a little bit of hope and help during these unprecedented times. If you’re interested in learning more about Text4Hope, feel free to check out this link. If you or someone you love is in danger of self harm, please call 911 or your nearest distress line. In Edmonton, you can call 780-482-4357. Sending healing, positivity and “virtual hugs” to you all! We Albertans are made of tough stuff and I know we will get through this.
This blog was written in partnership with Richelle Hanna of River City Sisters, a contemporary lifestyle blog by two Edmonton sisters. Check out their work at rivercitysisters.com.