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May 16, 2020

Covid-19 Online Mental Health Healing Hub: For Newbies to Depression, Anxiety and Grieving

On Wednesday, March 11, race director of the Whistler Half Marathon (Whistler, British Columbia, Canada), Dave Clark, his wife, his son and his mother-in-law travelled from Whistler to Palm Springs to visit family. “The day after we got there, you know what hit the fan,” says Clark. He was referring to the Covid-19 crisis and adds, “This was followed by very stressful times.”

The stressful times included getting the family from California to BC, worrying about his 80-year-old mother-in-law when travelling—hoping she wouldn’t contract Covid-19, deciding to hunker down at her home in Coquitlam, BC, so she would not be alone, therefore displacing his own family from their Whistler home, losing work income, debating on whether to cancel the Whistler Half Marathon scheduled for June…He wondered, “How do I balance all of this?”

It got him thinking, “I can’t be the only one feeling all of this…there will be many people who feel a decline in mental health due to loss of work, stress of finances, lack of routine, or worry of loved ones.”

Clark has dealt with mild to moderate depression and anxiety issues over the years and, “has some management tools but for people who maybe have never experienced mental health issues, they’re going to find themselves in a lot of hot water.”

Whistler resident, Greg McDonnell, was the counsellor who helped Clark with his anxiety and depression. They became so close that Clark lost McDonnell as his counsellor but gained a good friend. Clark approached McDonnell about how to help the community. There was no funding available but a lot of online resources. They discussed finding some online tools, “that we can put together in a toolkit that will help people manage their mental health issues to some degree. What content is out there that we really like that has been useful in our personal experiences?”

Clark also approached five other friends and professionals that he has known over the years to help curate content for a mental health healing website. The curators include Whistler Mayor Jack Crompton.

Thus, on Friday, April 17, the Sea to Sky Healing Project was born. Clark is referred to as the chief collaborator. Instead of creating original content, the website, “is a toolkit in the truest sense.  It is a collection of carefully selected online videos, podcasts, articles, diagrams, tips, and insight into how we can deal with stress, anxiety, and depression in our lives.” It is for adults, parents, youth and kids.

The Mayor says the Sea to Sky Healing Project, “is an incredible gift to our town.” Crompton recommends The Happiness Lab podcast, “Coronavirus Bonus: Keep Your Relationship Healthy.” Crompton also gives the heads-up to Forbes Magazine article, “The Mental Health Crisis Created by Covid-19: Why It’s Critical and How You Can Retain Your Sanity.”

Clark recommends the Dan Harris podcasts: “Harris is the ABC news broadcaster who had a panic attack on air, in front of the nation, and this forced him to really look inside and then figure out what was going on with him.” Harris then created the Ten Percent Happier podcasts. One such podcast on the S2S Healing Project website and suggested by Clark is, “Why We’re All Grieving.”

I personally recommend the Town Hall video: Strategies to Cope with Anxiety While Self-Isolating organized by Anxiety Canada. Sports broadcaster, Dan Murphy, moderates three panelists who are experts in the fields of anxiety and mental health. This program also introduces the user to the MindShift CBT App: “When you need anxiety help fast, use these quick and easy tools to help you take a breath, ground yourself, shift your thinking, and take steps to cope.”

Besides the Sea to Sky Healing Project website (S2S HEALING PROJECT), there is also a Sea to Sky Healing Project Facebook Page and a Twitter handle @SeaToSkyHealin1.

Clark says this Project is a, “toolkit for anyone experiencing anxiety, stress, or depression in this time of crisis, even kids.  Although it has been curated with residents of Sea to Sky country in mind, most of the tools here are good for anyone anywhere in the world.”

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