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Bow Valley residents urged to take care of mental health during COVID-19

“Please reach out to friends, family or to a medical professional if you need help, and please be respectful of others, especially those who are required to implement COVID restrictions and those who are feeling anxious or distressed about this fluid situation," said Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno
Banff Town Hall 2
Banff Town Hall

BANFF –  A coalition of organizations is promoting an initiative designed to help people who could be struggling or at risk of crisis due to ongoing challenges of living with the COVID-19 pandemic for almost two years.

The See-The-Signs campaign outlines the many supports available for people in the Bow Valley who are struggling almost two years into the pandemic, and urges people to use the SeeTheSigns.ca website to help assess their personal well-being.

As Banff and Lake Louise soared to at least 131 active cases by Dec. 28 – and is likely much higher than that –  Town of Banff officials say many residents are thousands of miles away from their family and familiar support networks, and the significant increase in cases and isolation requirements is forcing many to be alone.

Banff Mayor Corrie DiManno said the new, highly-contagious Omicron variant is adding stress and uncertainty during these challenging times.

“Whether you realize it or not, this has an impact on mental health,” she said.

“Please reach out to friends, family or to a medical professional if you need help, and please be respectful of others, especially those who are required to implement COVID restrictions and those who are feeling anxious or distressed about this fluid situation.”

The website at SeetheSigns.ca provides strategies to address stress and self-care ideas to maintain good mental health.

If residents ‘see the signs’ of distress or are struggling, they are offered tips and resources to help take care of their mental health.

In addition, a simple quiz on the website helps people assess a snapshot of their current level of stress. Contacts and local resources are available for people in distress.

Ella-Jean Schatzmann, a program facilitator for AHS’ Bow Valley Addiction and Mental Health, said the coalition of organizations came together to provide tools to help individuals assess their current state, find supports that can help, and above all, know they are not alone.

She said Bow Valley residents have been through so much over the past 20 months, with changing health restrictions, anxiety about the virus, anxiety about work, and many personal and family issues.

“It’s understandable that people can become overwhelmed by stress, and some people may not be fully aware their mental health may be struggling,” said Schatzmann in a December news release.

The Bow Valley Wellness, Recovery and Preparedness Coalition was first established to support emergency response and psychosocial well-being following the 2013 floods.

Now, consistent messages have been developed for coalition organizations to promote local wellness activities, resources, services, and relevant health information in order to support the recovery phases of the pandemic.

Coalition members include the towns of Banff and Canmore, the MD of Bighorn, AHS, the YWCA Banff, the Bow Valley Victim Services Association, Right from the Start, Canadian Rockies Public Schools, the Bow Valley Primary Care Network, and the Bow Valley Immigration Partnership.