CMHA Offers Online Support and Classes During COVID-19

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Crisis - someone once said – doesn’t build, but reveals character. And, as the world struggles with a new reality among COVID-19, mental health among many things has become supremely important. Canadian Mental Health Association of Wood Buffalo (CMHA) is providing much-needed supports from afar including recently launching Recovery College classes online with peer supports available. Classes start today and run through April 20.

“The health and safety of our clients and staff remains priority as we continue to monitor the COVID-19 situation and find the best and safest way to provide services and programs. We are doing everything possible at this time to keep safe options available to support individuals in need of care,” explains Amanda Holloway, CMHA Executive Director.

As per the CMHA, “Recovery Colleges bring together the expertise of people with lived experience of mental health and substance use problems, along with the expertise of professionals to collaboratively co-develop and co-deliver courses that are relevant and highly valued by the community.”

Classes will range in topics from Dealing with Uncontrollable Circumstances, Self-Compassion, Dealing with the Inner Critic, to Window of Tolerance, and Motivation, to name a few.

“CMHA WB’s data tells us that people are still in a state of shock and are seeking the direction from health and government officials. Our community seems to be in a space of information gathering, and it may take some time to garner what impact this will have on the overall health and mental wellness of our community,” Holloway continues.

During this time of uncertainty, CMHA is cognizant that symptoms of anxiety and depression may be exacerbated. These five basic tips may help individuals experiencing heightened mental health concerns to remain calm and balanced as this pandemic continues.

  1. Considering the level of attention and seriousness being paid to the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s normal to feel anxious. Try not to avoid, ignore or suppress anxious thoughts. Instead, be aware of your anxiety and accept that you’re feeling anxious in this situation. Try to keep things in perspective; notice and challenge your thoughts that may be extreme or unhelpful.
  2. Self-care is critically important at this time, as worries can be made worse if we aren’t taking care of ourselves. Lean on social supports, try to get enough sleep, eat healthy, exercise and engage in enjoyable activities. Do the things you would typically do to support your health, and be sure to use caution and follow health and safety guidelines while doing them.
  3. Seek information from reliable news sources only. Limit checking in on the latest news to short, defined periods, and refrain from setting related push notifications on your device. Appropriate information consumption may be calming and can lessen the sense of danger.
  4. Take the recommended precautions as outlined by Health Canada and other credible health agencies. Remain focused on the factors within your control, such as washing hands, covering your mouth during coughs and sneezes, avoiding non-essential travel, etc.
  5. If you’re noticing that your symptoms of anxiety (in association with COVID-19 or otherwise) are causing you significant distress or are interfering with your ability to function normally, reach out for formal mental health supports from a recognized agency, such as the CMHA.

“We should remember that this is absolutely the time to lean on each other. Even if we can’t be close physically, we need to stay close emotionally. So, while you’re staying in, stay in touch with each other, and reach out if you need support,” Holloway says.


Full list of CMHA classes can be found here:

Morning classes – sign in through Zoom:

Evening classes – sign in through Zoom:

If you or a loved one is experiencing mental health distress during this time, please call 211 or the Mental Health Help Line at 1-877-303-2642. You can also call 780-743-4357 – the crisis line for Some Other Solutions.


Kiran Malik-Khan is the Communications Manager for the Fort McMurray Public School District, and national award-winning communications professional. She is a freelance journalist, a communications professional, and a poet. She loves sharing stories about unique people, events, and organizations. Kiran is the co-founder and volunteer public relations director for NorthWord magazine, Fort McMurray's first and only literary magazine. She is also the President/Co-founder of World Hijab Day Fort McMurray. A proud Pakistani-Canadian who grew up in New Jersey, she is a fierce advocate of Fort McMurray, multiculturalism, women's rights, and equality for all. Got a story nobody is telling? Send her ideas: DM and follow on Twitter @KiranMK0822.