OTTAWA -- Ottawa’s Medical Officer of Health says it’s important to look after your mental health, along with your physical health, during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a statement ahead of the Easter long weekend, Dr. Vera Etches writes “I encourage everyone to find ways to support their mental health at this time.”

“Take the time to do what is best for you – whether that means taking a walk alone, taking a break from the news, or cooking a holiday meal with your household members.”

Dr. Etches took a couple of days off last week after a busy few weeks following the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in Ottawa.

In an interview with CFRA’s Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron Thursday afternoon, Dr. Etches said “it is important for everyone to look after themselves and their family.”

“I was fortunate to be able to have a couple of days off last week, and I can tell you it made a real difference in being able to come to things fresh again, to have more patience and positivity again. I really feel good and I’m going to plan to have those breaks from time to time to keep that up.”

Ottawa Public Health is urging people not to gather in person, even with extended family outside of your household, over the Easter weekend.  Residents are encouraged to practice physical distancing and limit contacts with others.

In her message, Dr. Etches writes “we know these measures has been difficult and it’s understandable if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed.”

“Personal connections are how we often support one another through tough times, and this lack of in-person connection is one facet of what makes this emergency unique and more difficult.”

Dr. Etches adds it's important to find ways to support your mental health over the long weekend and throughout the pandemic.

Ottawa Public Health offers five steps to take care of your mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  1. Try to unplug from media and find a balance
  2. Physical distancing does not mean being alone
  3. You are not alone
  4. We know this isn’t easy #ItsOkToNotBeOk
  5. Take care of your body. Stay active

Here is a list of Mental Health Resources available for Ottawa residents during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The Mental Health Crisis Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) 613-722-6914 

Distress Centre of Ottawa (24 hours a day/7 days a week) 613-238-3311

Kids Help Phone (bilingual) 1-800-668-6868

Good 2 Talk (bilingual) 1-866-925-5454

First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 24/7 (Bilingual, Other) 1-855-242-3310

Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre Crisis Line 24/7 (English) 613-562-2333 24hr Line: 613-562-2333