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COVID-19, Mental Health and Disability. You are not alone.

By Emilee Schevers
CNIB National Youth Council Member

In any given year, 1 in 5 people in Canada will personally experience a mental health problem or illness, and those with disabilities are three times more likely to experience mental health issues. And now, we’re in the middle of a global pandemic.

In a time of isolation and uncertainty, everyone’s mental health has been impacted in one way or another. Whether it be sadness or loneliness from not seeing family members, anxiety when going out into public, or feeling overwhelmed, COVID-19 has affected all of us.

As someone living with vision loss, it is normal to experience visual anxiety on a daily basis. This is essentially high levels of anxiety as a result of not being able to see certain things. When the pandemic began, new measures were put in place without considering accessibility. Directional arrows on the floor and clear plexiglass barriers can be unidentifiable to someone with vision loss. The sense of touch was also taken away from us. All of sudden, everyday tasks became harder and anxiety-inducing. 

How can we combat these challenges? 

While it seemed like our fight for a barrier-free world had taken five steps back, it brought our struggles to the forefront, including mental illness amongst those with disabilities. While this problem cannot be solved overnight, here are a few simple ways that we can feel less stressed and lonely during the pandemic:

  • Call a friend. It can always help to talk to someone.
  • Practice meditation and deep breathing.
  • Do something you love.
  • Get moving! Go from a walk outside.

Mental Health Resources and Supports

If you are in immediate danger, please call 911 or go to your local emergency department.
Crisis Services Canada: call 1-833-456-4566 anytime or text 45645 from 4 p.m. to midnight. you can search by country and by state/province for crisis resources.
Kids Help Phone: online chat or call 1-800-668-6868 to speak to a counsellor.
Transgender Crisis Line: call 1-877-330-6366. for various mental health and social support services across Canada.
Canadian Mental Health Association: find your local CMHA to access mental health help, support and resources.

COVID-19 Accessibility Recommendations

As restaurants, retail stores and municipalities begin to reopen and introduce new operating conditions and procedures to stop the spread of COVID-19, CNIB has provided recommendations to help remove barriers and ensure that indoor and outdoor spaces are accessible for all. Take a moment to read the guidelines and recommendations.