Get a mental fitness work out with MindWell U
During long periods of isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be difficult for people not to live the life they would normally live, making it easier to get stuck in negative thought patterns.
While it can seem like it is just you, nobody is alone in this feeling right now.
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware in the moment. It can include learning to accept the feelings, thoughts and sensations in your body.
Practicing mindfulness is a therapeutic technique people use to calm their anxieties, be present in the moment and de-stress themselves from what may be happening in their lives.
Nova Scotia Health’s Mental Health and Addictions Program (MHAP) recognizes how mindfulness can help Nova Scotians with their daily lives, making it easier to get through these challenging times.
During the first wave of COVID-19, MHAP accelerated the launch of several confidential e-mental health and addictions tools free of charge supported by donors from the QEII Health Sciences Centre Foundation.
These can be accessed through our updated MHAP website, MHAhelpNS.ca, where you can also find additional information about care and support provided in outpatient, inpatient and urgent care settings, resources, and services.
After a rigorous vetting and testing process, MHAP onboarded the e-Mental Health Tool MindWell U, for all Nova Scotians to have access to and practice mindfulness. This was done under the guidance and leadership of Lori Wozney Ph.D., Senior Health Outcomes Scientist for MHAP.
The research process when selecting e-mental health and addictions tools starts with identifying the needs and gaps in mental health and addictions service offerings in collaboration with community partners.
Then the team reviews different options based on a set of criteria to determine if the tool aligns with our values. The value criteria consists of: hope and compassion, evidence that it has a positive impact, diversity and inclusion, privacy and security, cost and sustainability.
“Making small changes in our daily lives over time can help us all build resilience, reduce stress and manage life’s curveballs and feel healthier - but we have to make the right kind of changes. E-Mental Health and Addictions services are there to support people across the whole journey of mental wellness. Before, during and after encounters with the formal mental health and addictions program,” said Dr. Wozney.
“The goal isn’t to throw a bunch of online services at people – we want quality services available to people when they need them, in a safe, effective and affordable way.”
One of these tools that’s accessible directly through the website is MindWell U.
Founded by Geoff Soloway, Ph.D., MindWell’s training platform is designed to provide people with self-directed tools and activities to practice mindfulness to reduce their stress, anxiety or improve low moods.
The tool consists of a 30-day MindWell Challenge, five-day MindWell Challenge and Studio Be live drop-in classes with instructors to engage and ask questions.
Dr. Soloway has been working in the area of wellness and mindfulness for the last 15 years. When asked about his inspiration to create MindWell U, Dr. Soloway said, “the mission of MindWell is making mindfulness more relevant and accessible for all so all people can learn these foundational skills of wellbeing.”
Dr. Soloway wants to help create change on three levels in society: individual, team/family and organizational/community. He focuses on the three levels to create more sustainable change in a positive direction.
At the individual level, Soloway says, “it is all about people learning principles and practices that they can integrate into their everyday life, and that makes a positive difference for them.
As life continues with COVID-19, adding new stress and anxiety to people’s everyday lives, it’s important to stay proactive with your wellbeing. It can feel difficult at times, but taking it one day at a time can make a significant difference in your journey to wellness and easing the stress in life.
“Eighty-four per cent of Canadians are saying their mental health concerns have worsened since the beginning of the pandemic, so we know stress levels are high. E-Mental Health services are not the only resources and support available, but they are a 24/7 available option for those who are ready to take the first step and want an online option,” said Dr. Wozney.
“Mindwell U has a 30-day and five-day challenge so people can start where they are, and develop the mindful practices in their daily lives that can help lower stress and deal with some of the major life changes COVID has brought to our lives.”
When Dr. Soloway was asked what he recommended to first-time MindWell U users he said, “show up for a Studio Be class. Come to at least one class a week where you can ask questions… also choose a good buddy and sign up for the MindWell Challenge together. Do it with somebody who’s going to be excited about it and will benefit from it. Someone who’s going to engage and support you fully.”
To get you and your buddy started on your journey to mindfulness, sign up for MindWell U for free at https://app.mindwellu.com/novascotia.
Additional mental health and addictions support:
Provincial Mental Health and Addictions Crisis Line 24/7
Available 24/7 for the individual or someone who is concerned about them.
Mental Health and Addictions Program Intake Service
Monday to Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
We welcome self-referrals, and referrals by family doctors, health care providers and community support groups to our Community Mental Health and Addictions clinics, Withdrawal Management Services, or Opioid Replacement and Treatment Programs.
Free online support that takes just five minutes a day, and can be accessed anywhere and on any device. This service is available in English and French. For more information, please visit: https://app.mindwellu.com/novascotia
Therapy Assistance Online (TAO)
A free and private online resource available to Nova Scotians. It includes interactive activities and videos for people having challenges with their mental health. This service is available in English and French. For more information, or to sign up for TAO please visit: https://taoconnect.org/what_is_tao/ns/
Wellness Together Canada: Mental Health and Substance Use Support
Free online resources, tools, apps and connections to trained volunteers and qualified mental health professionals when needed. Access the portal here: https://ca.portal.gs/
You can learn more about us at: MHAhelpNS.ca