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“I feel stuck and disconnected. What does this mean for my future?” This is what young people have been expressing about COVID-19 to Maria, Covenant House’s mental health counsellor.

For youth who have experienced homelessness and/or sex trafficking, the pandemic can compound existing anxiety and depression. It can also increase feelings of isolation. During these times, mental health support is critical.

Luckily, Maria is offering both in-person and virtual counselling that aligns with physical distancing.

Some of the techniques Maria uses include mindfulness and deep breathing to calm anxieties. She also helps youth to establish healthy routines and structure, which include limits on watching the news and finding healthy ways to cope, like journaling, reading or exercising and creative ways to connect. This helps youth focus on the areas in their life they can control.

“It’s important for young people to get back into a routine and feel a sense of purpose and connection. When you lose those routines, it can make you feel unbalanced and more vulnerable,” Maria notes. “And it’s essential to acknowledge that each youth matters and that we see them.”

Maria has worked at Covenant House for over 20 years. She has seen how resilient youth can be, even in the most challenging circumstances: “They are more than capable of adapting and coming up with effective responses to the difficult situations they are experiencing in their lives.”