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Mental health during the emergency situation

Set daily routines

Our daily activities and pace of life may be interrupted right now. Think about how you could adapt to the situation and create positive daily routines for yourself. Your daily schedule should include both useful and pleasant activities.

  • Useful activities
    such as cleaning the house, preparing food, eating at set times, exercising
  • Pleasant activities
    for example, reading, watching movies, solving crossword puzzles, calling friends.

Make a daily schedule for yourself, because following it increases the feeling of security and decreases feelings of helplessness and fear caused by the unpredictable situation.


If you have anxiety and concerns, you can help yourself

Many people are worried about themselves or their close ones catching COVID-19, which can cause high anxiety. Try to focus on the things that you can control – for example, where to get sensible information, how to prepare for various situations.

The fact that some things are out of your control is inevitable at the moment, however, constantly thinking about the virus and the situation it has created could cause excessive anxiety. Use self-help methods to calm yourself and cope with the anxiety, look for advice on how to alleviate anxiety and how to keep intrusive thoughts under control, and how to do simple relaxation exercises.


A bit of joy in every day

Fun activities help lift your mood, so in addition to your responsibilities, do try to find time for what you really enjoy. Brainstorm with your family about what you like to do and can do at home, and do those things regularly. Make a list of your family’s “simple pleasures” and include the things that bring you joy during the day.

  • Listen to good music
  • Watch your favourite films
  • Exercise together
  • Look for interesting recipes and cook great food together
  • Play board games
  • Organise social events online 


Take care of your physical health and sleeping

Your physical condition has a big impact on your emotional and mental wellbeing. Good quality sleep will also help you maintain your mental and physical health.

  • Try to eat healthy
  • Drink enough water
  • Air out your rooms
  • Exercise at home or, if possible, outdoors, or just go for a walk
  • Try to avoid or decrease smoking, as well as alcohol and drug use
  • Reduce your coffee intake, try to avoid device and television screens immediately before falling asleep.
  • At the and sites you can find good recommendations for how to ensure good quality sleep.


Focus on what you’re doing

In a stress situation, we tend to see things worse than they are, which is why it is important to differentiate between real and hypothetical (“What if. . .”) problems. Real problems can be solved using problem solving techniques. Constantly thinking about problems doesn’t get you closer to the solution, but rather deepens the feeling of being out of control and tense.

  • Focus intently on what you are doing (when talking to a child, focus on the child, and when walking outside, on your surroundings.
  • Instead of imagining the worst case scenarios and worrying about them, ask yourself: Am I rushing ahead of things and presuming that something very bad will happen, even though I don’t know that it will? Or am I underestimating my ability to cope with difficulties?
  • Remind yourself that important steps have been taken in Estonia to contain the spread of the virus and that we’ve managed to come through difficult times in the past.


Try to limit reading and watching the news

Too much news and constant social media browsing on corona topics will make your mind more restless. Think about which media channel you trust and check it only a few times a day at certain set times.

All complicated times will end at some point

It is important to know that all complicated times end. Until then, we can just do our best to cope as well as possible. Think back to what has helped you get through tough times before.

You can ease your anxiety and worries yourself

Use self-help methods to calm yourself and cope with anxiety, read advice for reducing anxiety  and how to keep intrusive thoughts under control, and do some simple relaxation exercises.


We will not leave anyone behind


Limit watching the news

Excessively following the news and social media on the topic of the coronavirus will make your mind more restless. To avoid that, try to limit reading and watching the news. Think about which media channels you trust and check them a few times a day at certain set times.

If you want to take a break from following the news, ask someone to let you know about important developments. Keep an eye on your kids’ reaction to news about the virus and be attentive to their fears and anxiety. Try to be with your children, when you watch, listen to or read the news, so that you could explain what’s happening to them.


The economy will recover and so will you

If you are worried about your family’s financial state or loss of employment, be active in hedging risks.

  • Make a plan right away on how to cut costs
  • Talk to your bank about loan payments, to your landlord about rent payments
  • If needed, use debt counselling services
  • Consult with the Unemployment Insurance Fund to find out what options are available for you
  • Talk to the social welfare department of your local government, whom you can ask for a subsistence benefit or other services, if needed.

If you don’t get clear answers or recommendations, ask again soon – things are changing fast and some solutions and help measures are being developed right now.


If you have lost your job

If you have lost your job, know that the situation itself is emotionally hard, so anger and depression are completely understandable.

We don’t know where this economic crisis will lead us, but we are all in this together. The reason for your job loss is not you – it is the overall state of things. The economy is cyclical – after it rises, it falls, and then it rises again. Try to stay active, find out about new work and training opportunities. Share your concerns with your close ones too.

Talk to your friends and close ones

To support your state of mind, it is important to keep up relations with close people. That will help you feel that you are not alone. Think about how to keep in regular contact with your friends and close ones by phone, video calls or on social media. For example, to communicate online, start a group with your friends and acquaintances, where you can send pictures and joke amongst each other. It might also be the right time to revive relations with old friends, who you’ve been thinking about, but haven’t had time to contact.


Keep up hope and faith – we can do it!

Times are tough and they may get tougher, and we don’t know how long it will all take. However, it is important to know and remember that all tough times end at one point. Until then, we can just try to do our best to cope as well as possible. Think about what has helped you get through hard times before.


Let’s listen to each other

If you want to support a close family member, find a spot that is as private as possible and take time away from other matters. Make sure that the time also suits the others. Shut off all disruptive screens and phones. The most important help is indeed taking the time and listening. Even though you might be tempted to offer solutions or advice, it might not help. Try to understand the experience of the other person and find out what they need.

Good tips for listening »


Have the courage to ask for and seek help when you need it! Help is out there

It is highly likely that anxiety, tension and discontent will increase during a crisis. If you or your family member is having a hard time dealing with negative emotions and it is having an impact on your daily life, seek help from a mental health specialist.

A mental health specialist can help you cope better with anxiety and stress by using special techniques. Ask your doctor, who can refer you to the right specialist, if needed. 

  • Psychological first aid is available through the national crisis hotline 1247 and at the website
  • Concerns related to children and youth are supported by the children’s aid hotline 116 111 and
  • Web-based mental health help is available at




Keep up your mental health treatment

  • If you have mental health concerns, talk to someone you trust. Ask for help! Help and information are also available at the hotline 1247 and through the web counselling service.
  • If you are taking medication to support your mental health, definitely continue taking it. Make sure you have a backup supply of medication at home and think about who could get your medication for you if you have to stay at home. With your ID code, someone else can get your medication for you.
  • Many mental health services are working over video bridges and also actively communicating by e-mail and phone.
  • If needed, get in touch with your psychologist or psychiatrist.
  • If your life is in danger, emergency psychiatric help is available in bigger Estonian cities 24/7.



Mental health support contacts

National crisis hotline: 1247 (24h)

Ambulance: 112 (24h)

Victim support: 116 006 (24h)

Child help hotline: 116 111 (24h),


Lifeline: in Estonian 655 8088, in Russian 655 5688  (daily from 19-07)


These recommendations were compiled by an expert group of the Estonian Mental Health and Well-Being Coalition VATEK.

Last updated: 3 April 2020