Health and COVID-19

As public health officials give us more direction around managing risk and symptoms related to COVID-19 infection, let’s remember to take care of our holistic health.

On this page, you’ll find resources and tips for how to take care of your holistic health and wellness. This includes:

This page will be updated regularly so check back frequently.

MAX’s Response to COVID-19

In addition, as an update to our statement published on Friday March 13th, and following the Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health update and recommendations issued on March 15, 2020, MAX Ottawa’s office will be closed to the public until further notice.

MAX will continue to be available via phone, email, and social media to support individual community members. Our contact information is listed below.

As a reminder, all group programming (i.e.: Now What, MAXpress Yourself, Keeping it 100!, Behind The Scene, MAX Groups) will be cancelled or delivered virtually until further notice. 

Details of whether groups are cancelled or happening online will be updated regularly on our website. We look forward to sharing resources and tips on health maintenance during this period. 

Mental and Emotional Health

Caring for our emotional and mental health around COVID-19

As public health officials give us more direction around managing risk and symptoms related to COVID-19 infection, let’s remember to take care of our mental health.

Here are six quick things to remember.

Physical distancing does not mean social isolation. Try and connect with people in your networks. Feel free to check in on your friends, play virtual games together, watch movies together, call each other, and text memes to stay connected. Just because we are staying home more, doesn’t mean we are isolating! We can take advantage of technology and connect in all kinds of ways.

Make sure the information you are reading is reliable. A lot of anxiety comes from the unknown and being overexposed to peoples’ fear-based responses. Who wrote this piece of news? When? Where did they get their info from? These are good questions to ask yourself. Ottawa Public Health and the Public Health Agency of Canada are good places to check out for regularly updated information.

Check in with your body and don’t forget to breathe! Did you drink water today? Have you moved your body a bit? Is your breathing shallow? Eating well, doing some exercise at home like yoga (if well enough), drinking lots of fluids, and getting enough rest and sleep will help your immune system be better equipped to fight an infection. Checking in with your body and taking deep breaths can also help your mental state. 

Be mindful of social media intake. Think of boundaries you want around limiting exposure to certain kinds of social media and stick to those. What is useful for you? What increases your feelings of dread or stress? If social media is part of how you socialize, think of which forums or virtual spaces you can go to connect that don’t increase your anxiety.

Do something nice for someone. Remember that we have supported one another in challenging times before, and that people can show amazing kindness in times of stress. Doing small, manageable acts of kindness can also help you feel connected. Examples include: picking up extra groceries, calling someone, or checking in via text message. Everyone has something to offer, whether it is humour, support, validation, or practical help – depending on your situation. This is also how we build stronger communities!

Do your best to take care, but be kind and patient with yourself. At the end of the day, we are all human and we make the best decisions with the information we have today in this moment. Try to have compassion for yourself as you might manage complicated feelings around your health. We might feel vulnerable, and it’s okay to reach out and ask for support to deal with that.

MAX will continue to update the community as we respond to health challenges such as this one. We believe in the power of looking out for each other and maximizing community connection, including in alternative ways.

If you have tips on taking care of our mental health, and each other, please feel free to share below! We love to hear what folks are doing to care for themselves and each other.

*Keep in mind that although we are happy to help you connect to

appropriate care, we currently do not offer crisis support services.*

Mental Health Resources

It’s OK to be overwhelmed and not feel OK. Here are some additional mental health resources:

For life-threatening emergencies, it’s best to call 911.

If you are experiencing mental health distress you can reach the Distress Centre at 613-238-3311 (English only) or the Crisis Line (English & French) at 613-722-6914 or toll-free 1-866-996-0991.

Trans Lifeline offers peer support to trans & non-binary individuals and is just one call or click away. 1-877-330-6366 (hotline open 10:00 AM-4:00 AM, but operators are also frequently available during off-hours, so please call whenever you need to)

Interligne offers 24/7 text and call support to LGBTQ2S+ people in English and French at 1-888-505-1010 (toll-free) or online via their anonymous chat service.

YouthLine offers confidential and non-judgemental peer support for LGBTQ2S+ people aged 16-29 through telephone, text and chat services. Get in touch with a peer support volunteer from Sunday to Friday, 4:00PM to 9:30 PM. Toll-Free: 1.800.268.9688 / In the Toronto Area: 416-962-9688. Text: 647-694-4275

There are some apps that can help too!

HealthyMinds is an app created by The Royal for students to track how they’re feeling and takes a proactive approach towards understanding how those feelings affect us daily.

Calm – provides guided meditation that can help manage anxiety symptoms. Available for iOS and Android
Headspace – also provides guided meditation that can help with mental health. Available for iOS and Android.

Sexual Health

If you live in Ottawa, you can order safer sex materials (e.g. condoms, lube, dental dams and insertive condoms) for FREE delivered to your door via The Link (formerly SexItSmart).

The GayZone clinic is closed until further notice due to COVID-19.

The Sexual Health Centre on Clarence Street is currently not accepting walk-in appointments. Except for PEP, patients without an appointment will be turned away and will not be seen. They must call the Sexual Health Centre nursing staff to schedule an appointment. To schedule an appointment, follow guidelines listed on the GayZone and Sexual Health Centre websites. 
More information on PEP and PrEP can be found on our Equip campaign website.

Additional Resources

Ottawa Public Health’s COVID-19 webpage is providing updates and how best to respond to the current situation in Ottawa.

Public Health Canada’s Coronavirus webpage is providing up-to date information including preparedness and prevention.