While 2020 may be behind us, challenges in this new year remain and we need to stay strong and work together.

The first few months (January, February & the first weeks of March) of a new year can be tough to get through, given the snow and ice, the cold, the lack of sun. On top of those things, we now face an even greater struggle with COVID-19, the lock-down and the stay-at-home order.

These challenges affect us all and every aspect of our lives; physical, economical, and emotional.

I live with my own health issues and can see that hurdles and cautions must be taken to stay safe and navigate this pandemic. I am also a caregiver to someone older and living with a disability, and the need to give reassurance and explanations can become tiring and stressful.

The negative impacts on mental health are becoming increasingly apparent, not only from the above personal experiences I mention, but from the stories I read and hear about, and through the job I hold.

CAYR COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS works together with, and supports, vulnerable and marginalized community members. We work together with community partner organizations as well that are also the front line.

Tough times’ doesn’t do things justice in explaining what people are going through.

You can help CAYR connect and offer support through our COVID-19 Response campaign. Every bit of help makes a difference.

Some notes from 211: (a helpline and website that provide information on, and referrals to, Ontario’s community, social, health-related and government services)

  • personal distress calls are on the rise, with wellbeing being a common thread
  • housing assistance and eviction related calls are also on the rise
  • the spike in COVID cases in January has resulted in a sizable increase in contact volumes in all regions with Peel, York and Durham seeing high increases

But despite all of this and more, we need to remember that STRONG is what we are. Many of us face challenges on a regular basis. As a community, we can get through this.

Now, more than ever, it is important for people to take the time to not only check-in with themselves to see how they are feeling, but also to make sure loved ones are doing okay. In addition, new ways to stay in touch with family and friends is needed as the fatigue of standard video chats has started to set in.

Check out some new and some not-so-new ideas suggested by york.ca/stayconnected to help you get back in touch in a safe and physically distanced way.

Be well and stay safe.

#YRStayConnected

By Mark Koning

Mark is the Manager of Communications & Operations with CAYR COMMUNITY CONNECTIONS. Mark is also an Author and Blogger of Challenging Barriers and The BIST Blog. (Brain Injury Society of Toronto)