Lara Levesque-Roy, a creative writing student at Algonquin who suffers from anxiety, depression and obsessive-compulsive disorder, has experienced an increase in symptoms since self-isolating during COVID-19.

On March 18, the World Health Organization released a document called Mental Health and Psychosocial Considerations During the COVID-19 Outbreak, which included ways to support mental health and psychosocial wellbeing.

According to the Canadian Mental Health Association over 6.7 million people that are living with a mental health condition in Canada.

“I have a bad feeling in the pit of my stomach that this will last forever and I can’t see a light at the end of the tunnel,” said Levesque-Roy.

It’s something Levesque has been grappling with for weeks.

“What makes it all worse is looking at the news. I feel like it’s bad for my mental health, but I can’t stop looking at it,” said Levesque-Roy.

For those like Levesque-Roy who are experiencing increased feelings of distress during stressful times like the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO suggests decreasing the amount of watching, reading or listening to news about the novel-coronavirus.

The report also says talking to loved ones on the phone, e-mail, social media or video chat helps manage mental health, as well as keeping up regular routines and schedules, exercising, engaging in the art arts, music and other activities.

According to CTV Ottawa, the Distress Centre of Ottawa had a 30 per cent increase in calls, with March 22 being the busiest day in the history of the Distress Line.

“The fear of how long it will last affects me more than the fear of getting sick. I feel like there’s no one to talk to or turn to anymore,” said Levesque-Roy.

Doug Stringer, manager of counselling services and spiritual centre at the college, also offers his own tips for anyone whose mental health is being affected by coronavirus.

1. Move. There are plenty of fitness or yoga classes available online. Do some stairs, if you have them — any kind of movement is good.

2. Find enjoyable sounds such as music, sights, tastes, smells and soft things to touch. If the person is allowed outside, get some fresh air and go for a walk. If not, find a sunbeam and feel the warmth.

3. Connect in a meaningful way by video chat. Form a group of friends and have a get-together.

4. Do something that provides a sense of accomplishment. Do some school work, some cleaning or other chore or something artistic.

If you need someone to talk, the following resources are available int he community. They are here to support and help.