Special COVID-19 Edition: Ways to connect & calm the body & mind

Stay Active!

Tune in to the YMCA Facebook page @YMCAGTA for FREE family-friendly sessions led by their fitness instructors and early childhood educators.
Click here for 5 simple steps to de-stress, from a YMCA yoga instructor.

Be Creative!

The YMCA has shared the following resources to help keep you, and your kids, get creative at home: 

Download. Print. Color. Relax.

Over 100 Museums, Libraries, and Galleries Are Offering Free, Printable Colouring Sheets. Click here to explore all colouring sheets. 

(Virtual) Travel!

Feeling restless with the recent coronavirus-induced travel restrictions? You can still have adventures from your home!
On top of virtual hikes through 31 National ParksGoogle Earth also offers virtual treks through Mt. Fuji in Japan, the Khumbu valleys at the base of Mt. Everest in Nepal, Gombe National Park in Tanzania and the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt. 


Concerts - both professional and amateur - are taking place in front of online audiences daily, here are a few favourites we've seen:

Look At!

Museums, galleries and other attractions are providing virtual tours: 

Need Some Support? Kids Help Phone is Here!

Did you know? Youth in need of health support have access to trained counsellors 24/7 by phone or online. Parents/guardians who have mental health concerns about their child/student are also encouraged to get in touch with Kids Help Phone. 
Visit www.kidshelpphone.ca or call 1-800-668-6868 for more info and resources.


Toronto Public Library: Suggested Learning/Reading

Kids can listen to stories any time with Dial-A-Story service, available in 16 languages. Dial 416-395-5400 or click here to visit the TPL website to learn more. 

Browse nearly 4,000 digital comics, available right now with your library card. Click here to browse comics now.  

16 Strategies to Help You Thrive

We all deserve to feel well and to thrive. In order to get there, the first thing to keep in mind is that we ALL have mental health to protect, promote and celebrate. 
The Canadian Mental Health Association has 16 strategies to try each day, and reflect on how they impact your mood and sense of well-being. Keep track of which strategies make the biggest impact and keep them in your back pocket to boost your mental health on the bad days, and on the good ones too.
Click here for the list of 16 Strategies to Help You Thrive

Tips for Connecting with Others

  • If you don’t feel that you have anyone to call, reach out to acquaintances. Lots of other people feel just as uncomfortable about making new friends as you do—so be the one to break the ice, or reconnect with an old friend!
  • Get out from behind your TV or computer screen. Communication is a largely nonverbal experience that requires you to have direct contact with other people, so don’t neglect your real-world relationships in favor of virtual interaction
  • Be a joiner. Join networking, social, or special interest groups that meet virtually. These groups offer wonderful opportunities for meeting people with common interests
  • Don’t be afraid to smile and say hello to strangers you cross paths with (while maintaining 2 metres of physical distance). Making a connection is beneficial to both of you—and you never know where it may lead!


Staying Updated AND Mentally Healthy

The World Health Organization makes the following recommendations to protect your mental health during this time:  Minimize watching, reading or listening to news that causes you to feel anxious or distressed; seek information only from trusted sources.
Seek information updates at specific times during the day, once or twice. The sudden and near-constant stream of news reports about an outbreak can cause anyone to feel worried. Get the facts; not the rumors and misinformation.
Visit the WHO website and local health authorities’ platforms to help you distinguish facts from rumors: Toronto Public Health, Health Canada.

Tips for Talking to Children about COVID-19

CAMH has compiled resources to support families and individuals during this time:

Resources to Help Mental Wellness

Community Mental Health Resources 

Youth in need of mental health support have access to trained counsellors 24/7 by phone or online. Additional resources also available. https://kidshelpphone.ca/1-800-668-686
  • Psychology Foundation of Canada - Parent Resources
    The Psychology Foundation of Canada (PFC) is a registered charity with a 40+ year history of nurturing resilience in children. 
  • School Mental Health Ontario - Provides information to support youth mental health during COVID-19
  • The ABCs of Mental Health - The Resources include ideas for promoting the mental health of children and adolescents, information about how children change as they get older, descriptions of behaviours that might indicate a problem, and practical suggestions for steps to take
  • Teen Mental Health.org - This resource provides tips and coping strategies for youth that may be helpful during COVID-19.
  • Anxiety Canada provides information and resources to support youth and adults manage anxiety. The Mindshift app can be accessed here
  • CALM - This is an app designed to help people with sleep, meditation and relaxation


Supporting Staff Mental Health  

For TCDSB staff looking for help, the EFAP provides immediate and confidential assistance for any work, health or life concern. Click here to learn more about available support through EFAP. 

Our Next Edition: May 2020

It felt so good, hopeful, and impossible to hear birds singing when I opened the door this morning. How can something so “normal” as birds singing continue to go on? In this very strange and anxiety producing time as adults and caregivers, our mental health is being challenged like never before. In addition to this, our need to be present, calm and tuned into our children’s well-being is also of paramount importance. It is to this end that we want to reduce the feelings of being overwhelmed, provide accurate information and some realistic ways of coping. May the birds always sing and touch our souls!
This newsletter is brought to you by the TCDSB Mental Health Team. Feel free to contact us with any comments, questions or suggestions at 416-222-8282: 
Marie-Josée Grendron, PhD, C.Psych.
Chief of Mental Health Strategy & Staff Well-Being, ext. 2774 

Maria Peixoto, MSW, RSW
Interim Mental Health Lead, ext. 2772 
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