As the COVID-19 pandemic worsens across the province, the Anxiety Disorders Association of Manitoba (ADAM) is moving a popular support group online to make it more accessible for rural Manitobans.
The Anxiety and Worry Support Program is a free, six-week support group led by ADAM’s regional support workers.
Wendy Scheirich, ADAM’s Eastman support worker, said her group will begin before Christmas, with an exact date determined by enrolment.
Sessions will take place on the videoconferencing platform Zoom. A telephone option also available.
Each meeting will cover a different topic, such as the nature of anxiety or how to consciously calm the body. The program is based on the principles of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT).
"Cognitive-behavioral therapy operates under the premise that if you can change your thoughts, your feelings, and your behaviors around anxiety, then your anxiety can be reduced," Scheirich explained in a phone interview.
A former nurse, Scheirich said anxiety among is one of the most common, and most treatable, mental health issues.
"Anxiety is a condition that can be relieved by support from other people with anxiety. It just helps to unload all these anxious thoughts on your mind with other people that can relate to your experience," she said.
"The idea is then to reload your mind up with alternate ideas and thoughts to replace the anxious ones."
In a release, ADAM highlighted a national study that found the number of Canadians who rank their anxiety as high has quadrupled since the pandemic began. Access to support services declined over the same period.
Another study, conducted in September by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, found more than 20 percent of adults surveyed said they worried about catching COVID-19. One in five also said they had sought professional help for mental health concerns during the week preceding the survey.
Scheirich said the pandemic has intensified anxiety for those already prone to it and caused others to experience anxiety for the first time. It has also exacerbated certain types of anxiety disorders, such as those related to health and running errands.
To apply for the Anxiety and Worry Support Program, contact the Eastman region ADAM office at email@example.com or 204-345-8511.
For those who prefer a more informal approach, or who can’t commit to a six-week program, Scheirich has also established an anxiety support group on Facebook called Feeling Good in Eastman.
ADAM also maintains a support line at 204-925-0040. The Eastman 24-hour crisis line for mental health emergencies is 1-866-427-8628.
A separate initiative, involving funding from Bell Let’s Talk and the Rainbow Resource Centre in Winnipeg, is providing free short-term counselling for Southeast members of the 2SLGBTQ+ community and their loved ones.
Greg Costen, a Winkler-based registered therapist with Manitoba Video Counselling, is offering in-person and remote counselling for general issues like trauma or depression and for issues specific to gender and sexuality.
For more information, visit manitobavideocounselling.com.